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Heidi Shaffer, Published September 21 2010

Fargo city commissioners deny Deer Creek additon rezoning

The Fargo City Commission denied rezoning the Deer Creek addition on Monday because of disagreement over the placement of parkland and recreation trails.

The decision halts development for now in the southwest Fargo 813-lot housing addition, which was set to start installing underground utilities this fall.

Disagreement arose between developers, Corn II LLC, and the commission at its Sept. 7 meeting over a bike path that was in original plans but later scrapped because the Sheyenne River’s banks proved too unstable.

Commissioners said the trail is part of the city’s comprehensive growth plan and asked developers to find a solution for its inclusion.

Discussion Monday also centered on finding a way to preserve wooded areas next to the Sheyenne along the development’s western edge.

“This is really a beautiful area,” Commissioner Dave Piepkorn said, adding that he wants the city to find a way to preserve the trees, possibly as part of parkland.

Mahoney said he felt the city may be asking the Deer Creek developer to do more than was asked of previous developments.

“If he didn’t have trees, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” Mahoney said. “I think you’re changing the level of what you’re asking the developer to do.”

The developer gave two alternatives Monday, but after much discussion, the commission could not agree on either alternative, instead voting 3-2 to deny the rezoning of the development. Commissioner Tim Mahoney and Mayor Dennis Walaker were the two dissenting votes.

Steve Iverson, a consultant for the development group, reminded commissioners that the city of Fargo is in competition for development with surrounding communities.

Iverson would not comment on future plans for the development, but Commissioner Brad Wimmer said the issue should go back to the Planning Commission for negotiations.

Discussion over the bike path and tree preservation spurred a proposal by Commissioner Mike Williams to direct city staff to look into adopting Cass County’s rules on river setbacks and establish a tree-preservation policy.

The city’s current setback standard is 100 feet from a river’s floodway, but the county measures 450 feet from the center of the waterway.

City Planner Jim Hinderaker said along the Red River, city and county setbacks would not vary greatly because of the Red’s wide floodway.

But because the Sheyenne River has high banks and does not have a floodway, city setbacks would be 100 feet from the river itself, Hinderaker said.

The city also lacks a tree-preservation policy, something Williams said he wants addressed in the future.

Planning and engineering staff will examine the policies and present recommendations to the commission by the end of the year.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511