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Wendy Reuer, Published May 29 2012

Moorhead leaders lowering fees with new construction

MOORHEAD – City leaders here are taking a cue from homebuilders and lowering fees associated with new construction as part of an initiative to stimulate the city’s housing market.

The City Council approved lowering fees overall by around 27 percent at its meeting Tuesday.

Administrative fees applied to all assessed projects will be 5 percent of construction and engineering costs. Engineering fees were reduced from 15 percent to 11 percent of construction costs.

“I think this is great we are moving forward with these proposals,” Mayor Mark Voxland said.

As part of a list of city code changes the council approved Tuesday, Councilman Luther Stueland suggested the city allow developers a choice in whether to include sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Stueland suggested the sidewalk amendment to give developers a chance to diversify the look and feeling of subdivisions.

“I like the idea that individual neighborhoods can have that kind of diversity,” Stueland said.

However, the council voted down Stueland’s amendment. Developers of new subdivisions will be required to create a sidewalk plan on both sides of streets.

Existing subdivision residents without sidewalks can petition the developer to install new sidewalks if a majority of residents agree.

• In other business:

City Manager Michael Redlinger hopes to fill a new community services director/deputy city manager position this summer.

On Tuesday, the council approved Redlinger’s request to transfer $105,000 from the city’s lobbying budget to the administration budget for the position.

The lobbying money was set aside to fund a Federal Legislative Affairs contractor in Washington, D.C., whose contract was not renewed in 2012.

Redlinger said he hopes to fill the position internally and will begin the process in June.

The assistant city manager position was cut in 2007 due to budget constraints, Redlinger said.

• The council approved a $190,000 engineering contract with Campbell Engineering Services.

Campbell representatives presented an analysis of the city’s railroad pre-emption system earlier this year that looked at the reasons why long wait times at traffic lights were occurring while trains rumbled through town.

Under this contract, Campbell will prepare traffic signal timing plans and specifications and work with the railroad to find solutions that will lessen wait times.

The company will also study the feasibility of extending one-way traffic on 14th and 11th streets, a recommendation it made in March to ease congestion due to rail traffic in those areas.

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