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Amy Dalrymple, Published January 19 2009

Bill would encourage upgrading of utilities

BISMARCK – A bill that seeks to expand Renaissance Zone incentives could eliminate eyesores in downtown Fargo, supporters say.

Dave Anderson, president of Fargo’s Downtown Community Partnership, testified last week in favor of Senate Bill 2060 that would give tax incentives for making improvements to overhead utility lines.

Anderson showed members of the Senate Industry, Business and Labor Committee photos of streets and alleys in downtown Fargo where ?utility poles, cables and wires dominate the view.?

One example was an alley adjacent to the Avalon Center that had a collection of overhead lines that disappears into the distance.

He also showed them a photo of utility poles near the Cityscapes retail and student housing project that’s under construction.

The bill seeks to encourage upgrading of utilities and burying them underground where it is necessary or where it would bring aesthetic improvements, Anderson said.

Sen. Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo, chairman of the Workforce Committee, testified that the bill came out of a discussion about ideas for strengthening renaissance zones.

The Utility Shareholders of North Dakota support the bill, lobbyist Bob Graveline told legislators.

Graveline said it will cost about $250,000 to $300,000 to upgrade utilities at the Cityscapes project, and this bill would provide incentives to make such upgrades.

The bill is scheduled for another hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Inforum searchword: state government Readers can reach Forum reporter

Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590