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Published July 12 2012

Diversion Authority outlines buyout process

FARGO – The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority has released the first version of its land management plan, which outlines how the majority of properties will be acquired for the Red River diversion project.

The plan specifies which properties could be affected and the legal process the authority plans to follow when working with landowners.

“This is a living document,” project management consultant Jon Diebel said, adding that updates will be made to the plan as needed.

The land management plan will apply to buyouts after Congress authorizes the project, which isn’t likely before 2013.

Early buyouts are governed under a separate hardship policy.

According to the land management plan, the

$1.8 billion project will impact 1,451 properties, affecting 831 property owners in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Specifically, those properties include 246 in the diversion channel’s footprint and nearly 1,200 in the proposed water storage areas south of the channel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will cost about $255 million, including contingencies, to acquire all necessary land.

However, the final price-tag depends on some factors that have yet to be determined, such as the specific appraised value of individual properties.

Buyout offers will be based on those appraised values, and landowners will have the right to negotiate a final price.

Acquisitions will be based on the timeline for construction, beginning on the northern end of the project and working south.

If property owners resist the chance to voluntarily sell their land, officials have said they are willing to pursue eminent domain proceedings.

The authority has so far been successful in court when seeking to gain access to land for survey and geotechnical work.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

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