Take a good look at the city of Surrey, because if proposed housing developments receive final approval, the small city east of Minot will never be the same.
The Surrey City Council has given preliminary approval to residential and commercial projects on 80 acres north of Surrey. But the 80 acres are only a small part of a bigger plan, which includes 600 acres. The city's planning board also gave preliminary approval for a residential development with 396 housing units, and there are other projects in various stages of planning.
An official associated with the 600-acre Silver Springs development, which would be phased in over three to five years if approved, could add between 9,000 and 10,000 residents to Surrey, which is home to roughly 1,000 residents now.
Needless to say, that kind of rapid growth brings a host of concerns with it, including proper infrastructure to handle that many residents. The Surrey school system would experience massive growth with that kind of population explosion, and the district is considering a $6 million project to add 11 classrooms and a commons area to the school. Officials say the district can handle the expected 30 to 50 new students this year, based on current homes being built, but growth beyond that would require portable classrooms and other temporary measures.
Surrey certainly isn't the only western North Dakota city experiencing sudden population growth it's only the latest city to face that challenge. Surrey's city leaders are trying to do what they can to control the growth, but trying to manage private sector housing growth while maintaining some aspects of small-town living is difficult, if not nearly impossible. Housing in the Minot area is still in high demand, so new developments in adjacent smaller towns will help ease the crunch in Minot, and will appeal to residents wanting to distance themselves a bit from bigger cities. But it also means that many of the benefits of small-town living in places like Surrey or Burlington, where massive housing developments are also in the works, will be gone.