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Published August 03 2010

West Fargo man wants quiet zone

A quiet zone in West Fargo isn’t off the table, but it’s likely too cost-prohibitive to pursue without knowing how much support it would have from the entire city, West Fargo commissioners said during Monday night’s meeting.

Resident Ed Green asked the commissioners to consider creating a quiet zone, which refers to constructing safety upgrades at railroad crossings that would allow trains to pass through without having to blow whistles.

Casselton is establishing its own quiet zone, while other cities – such as Fargo – already have quiet zones in place.

Green recently bought a home about a mile south of the railroad tracks that run through northern West Fargo in the city’s industrial park. He said the trains keep him awake at night and he sometimes wears earplugs to drown out the sound.

“From my personal experience, I don’t think I would’ve bought that house,” he told commissioners. “I would’ve moved somewhere else.”

Green is among the few residents who’ve broached the quiet-zone proposal to West Fargo officials in recent years.

Through initial research and meetings in 2008, West Fargo officials learned it could cost around $400,000 alone to construct the necessary upgrades at the railroad crossing on Ninth Street Northeast. It would cost thousands more to include the city’s several other crossings and undergo studies required by Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway, Commissioner Mike Thorstad said.

“We’d love to have it. I agree with you,” Thorstad told Green. “I don’t think it’s a dead issue. The challenge is money.”

Commissioners advised Green to pursue a petition among other residents to gauge the general interest in further pursuing a quiet-zone proposal.

Also Monday night, commissioners denied a 32nd Avenue resident’s request to be reimbursed for the $800 he spent on repairs he said the city failed to make on his land.

Before unanimously voting against the request, commissioners and city officials spent 45 minutes talking with resident Larry Wacha about his concerns over construction work near his home close to the Sheyenne River.

Wacha argued that the flooding he’s experienced in the past couple of years was due to poor draining from new residential developments nearby, while city officials said it was a product of higher river levels caused by rainy seasons and the record spring floods of 2009 and 2010.

West Fargo officials said they spent as much as $4,000 for contractors to work on Wacha’s property several times in the past few years by replacing trees, soil and grass.

Last year when Wacha expressed dissatisfaction with the city’s progress, city Administrator Jim Brownlee told Wacha he wouldn’t be reimbursed if he finished the work himself because a contractor had been hired to do it.

West Fargo commissioners said Monday they’d wished Wacha had come to them sooner to ask for the reimbursement rather than going ahead on his own.

“We cannot have our citizens going and doing their own work and then billing the taxpayer,” Commissioner Mark Simmons said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541