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Published March 27 2012

Diversion Authority fields questions about buyout timeline, prices

HICKSON, N.D. – The Flood Diversion Authority reached out to the people of Oxbow on Tuesday night at the Hickson Community Center.

Homeowners want to know when they’ll be bought out and for how much, but it is too early in the process for those answers.

“We are trying to maintain the quality of the community through all of this, and that’s become increasingly difficult,” said John Carlson, an Oxbow homeowner.

Carlson has lived in Oxbow for 10 years. He was going to retire in Arizona, but now he doesn’t know if that’s possible.

“We had our house fixed up, were intent to sell it, and then the diversion was announced and we became hostages in our home,” he said.

Many expressed their concern over paying full property taxes for homes worth only a fraction of their original value. But homeowners were assured that when the buyout process happens, they will be fairly compensated.

But the question of when was left unanswered.

“This is in the federal process, and the federal process can be very slow,” said Tom Waters, flood diversion program manager.

If Congress approves funding by 2013, it’s possible upstream buyouts won’t take place until 2019, and that’s if everything is streamlined.

But those on the Diversion Authority say they’re working on a process to buy out people with extreme hardships sooner.

“They have to start acquiring, or dealing with these hardships, or give us some solution that brings marketability back to our homes while this whole process continues,” said Oxbow Mayor Jim Nyhoff.

The Diverison Authority expects an official record of decision to be signed sometime in April.

There will be another meeting for homeowners in Hickson, Bakke and Pleasant Township at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Hickson Community Center.

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