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Wendy Reuer, Published March 12 2012

Moorhead to try to resell 5 homes city purchased

MOORHEAD – After receiving new information, the City Council here has decided to sell five houses it bought as part of a permanent flood protection plan last year.

The council unanimously approved the realignment of a levee Monday in the area roughly between 32nd Avenue South and 40th Avenue South. The new alignment means five houses that were bought by the city through voluntary buyouts could be saved and resold instead of demolished or moved to make way for the levee.

The houses are located at 3619 Rivershore Drive, 30 36th Ave. Circle S., 3500 Riverview Circle S., 3502 Riverview Circle S. and 3506 Riverview Circle S.

City Engineer Bob Zimmerman said if the homes can be sold at market value, they could generate about $1.5 million for the city. Construction of the levee will cost about $600,000.

The city spent about $1.6 million in buyouts for the five homes.

“Some would argue, ‘Why didn’t you leave the residences there?’ ” Councilman Mark Hintermeyer said. “I would argue we have new information.”

Zimmerman said that Hintermeyer is correct; the houses were bought so that the city could build a permanent levee, and previous GIS information indicated that the houses would have to be removed.

Resale of the homes will not only preserve the homes but preserve the city taxes they generate, which are about $4,500 per year, City Manager Michael Redlinger said.

Redlinger said how much the homes will generate and if they can be sold will not be determined until after the levee is constructed this summer.

“This will all occur after the (levee) project is completed so that you can appropriately assess the homes,” Redlinger said.

A sixth lot in that area does not currently have a home on it, but it is possible the city could sell the lot for future home construction, Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said the property lots may be redrawn and assessors will determine a fair market value for each home.

If the properties cannot be resold, the city will continue with demolition, which could cost between $20,000 and $25,000 per property.

John Brummer – who lives along Riverview Circle – asked the council to save the homes to save his neighborhood.

“It will have the impact of either saving our neighborhood or killing it,” Brummer said.

Zimmerman said the city has not continued flood insurance on the homes but he would “immediately” submit the properties for flood insurance so that rates could be grandfathered in at the lowest cost.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will release updated flood maps for Moorhead this spring. At that time, some homes will considered to be at higher flood risk, which could cause flood insurance rates to go up unless the home has had continuous coverage.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530