Parking changes coming to Bismarck

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Bismarck is working on a plan to reduce the number of required parking spots for new projects.

Bismarck City Planners say reducing parking at future projects would be more cost effective, encouraging developers to build more in the future.

Cars are constantly filling the lot at Lucky's 13 Bar. Manager Tyler Gustafson says the lot size helps business at the restaurant.

"It would really be a pain to narrow down the amount of parking spaces because then you narrow down the amount of potential people that you could have come sit at your restaurant or go to whatever facility it is that you may be running," Gustafson said.

The city currently requires businesses to include a designated number of parking spots. Now, planners are looking to reduce the number of spots by 20%. Planners say reducing lot size will increase development options and allow more freedom for developers to build what they'd like.

"Providing parking spaces is a real cost to a business when they're coming to town or they're expanding or looking to relocate. It's a cost to them monetarily and it's also a cost to the city and to its citizens," said Jenny Wollmuth, city planner.

While some businesses feel their lots are crammed as is, developers say this might be the best move.

"A lot of the issues we run into, especially on smaller developments, is it's very difficult to fit all the required parking on the lot. So, it can kind of be a barrier to development," said Jake Axtman, Kessel Run Condo developer.

The strategy is proposing to give city planners administrative power to approve parking reductions for businesses.

"Providing parking or getting that right number is a little bit of a balancing act. So with working with the public and commercial developers and realtors we're hoping to find maybe a happy medium," Wollmuth said.

The city wants to implement a strategy for businesses to share their lots when not in use.

Before the parking changes take effect, the proposal must be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Commission.