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Dave Olson, Published September 17 2010

For Moorhead family, buyout may be only option

David and Kathy Hunstad have lived at 2215 Rivershore Drive in south Moorhead for 22 years, during which time they’ve worked to protect their house from the Red River.

They say they’ve spent an estimated $50,000 on flood-fighting features that include large concrete pylons in their backyard.

Now, the family feels they have won the battle against high water only to lose the war.

The reason? A proposed buyout from the city of Moorhead that David Hunstad said they were not expecting.

The family has yet to hear what the city will offer for the house, but David Hunstad said Thursday that he may have little choice but to accept a deal.

If they stay and neighbors leave, it could cause the value of the home to shrink, he fears.

“I just don’t feel like that is good for future market value,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think “voluntary” describes the buyout situation in his neighborhood.

City officials “are moving so quickly and putting this kind of pressure on us,” he said.

Until recently, the Hunstad home was not on the list of households the city planned to make offers to during the current phase of flood buyouts.

But unexpected buying opportunities in the neighborhood prompted the city to expand the list in hopes enough land can be cleared to build a dike next year that would extend from Interstate 94 to 20th Avenue South, said Peter Doll, business and development services manager for the city.

Doll said about five homes were added to the list of potential buyouts in the Gooseberry Park area for a total of 11 that recently received letters asking if homeowners were interested in having an appraisal done.

If an appraisal is done and homeowners receive an offer from the city, homeowners have two weeks to make a decision whether to sell.

For those who decide to sell, the city is asking that they vacate homes by Nov. 1.

People who want to stay in homes longer will be asked for $35 a day in rent.

“We do that to increase their flexibility,” said Doll, who added that if the deadlines seem aggressive, the city is up against difficult timetables of its own.

“There are two sides to the coin,” he said. “People have to find a different house and move out, obviously. And we have to get the house demolished, or moved, before winter.”

Doll said when the city tried to remove buyout homes last spring, it ran into wet conditions that prevented many homes from being moved before the flood hit.

“We didn’t get too many houses out,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555