Posted 9/22/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Will Ray continue to grow? City leaders are planning on it.
Last week, Brent Moore, planning group manager for CTA, provided a presentation on the city continuing its relationship with the firm. The proposal would have Moore acting as the city’s on-call planner.
The commission voted to approve the contract.
The firm, which was founded in 1938 and has offices nationwide, bills the city $128 per hour for Moore’s time, and Moore is supported by staff at $93 per hour.
The maximum per-month charge to the city is not to exceed $6,500 according to the terms of the contract.
Moore stated that CTA has always come in under budget for its services to Ray.
Scope of services
Last year, Ray hired CTA to develop a comprehensive plan for the town. The goal was to create some order amid the chaos of rapid growth when the boom was in full swing.
The new scope of services would extend that plan, amend some of the aspects of it, and fill in details.
Moore said he has been in talks with the city auditor and commissioners to identify priorities for future planning work.
These would include coordinating public conferences on an amendment to the comprehensive plan to support development in the west of Ray.
The scope of work, which defines the services the firm will provide, includes helping Ray through the process of annexing that territory into the city boundaries.
“It sounds like it’s time to start thinking about annexing some of those properties,” Moore told the commission.
The planning would also involve extending services to any areas that don’t currently have them.
In response to inquiries about possible large developments in the southwest portion of Ray, Moore said CTA would help the city plan for that growth and eventual annexations of the areas where the developments would occur.
Additionally, Moore said further planning objectives would look at the U.S. 2 highway corridor. The strip is identified as a key area of growth in the 2015 plan.
“We really want to look at some zoning changes to implement the comprehensive plan,” Moore said.
The city also has a lot of permits that were issued over the past three years, but the landowners never began construction on the projects.
Moore said these permits would need to be examined to determine if they are still valid or needed to be amended.
Lastly, Williams County is in the process of updating its subdivision zoning regulations. Moore said CTA could help Ray make sure its planning is consistent with the county’s updates.
With the town continuing the relationship, it suggests city leaders are still expecting the town to grow, even as the oil industry is slowing activity in the face of falling oil prices.
“The city supports growth and expects growth,” Moore said, speaking after the meeting.
Moore said the slowdown is an opportunity for the city to plan for the future.
“We do have time now to think about where growth would occur,” he said.
Mayor Ray Munson said the commission thought the services CTA provides would be of continuing benefit to the community. He said the town is expected to grow, if not immediately then at some point when oil prices return to higher levels.
“You can say Ray missed the boat when the boom was on. We’re looking long-term now,” Munson said.
Commissioner Troy Kupper agrees. He points to ongoing inquiries about developments in the southwest of Ray as an indication there is still interest in the town. And it’s something, he said, they welcome.
“We’re hoping for it,” Kupper said.
Munson, who has lived in North Dakota his whole life and in Ray for the past 14 years, said the cycles are normal. And he expects there to be another upswing at some point.
“I’ve have a feeling it’s going to come back,” he said.