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By Lisa Dirk, West Fargo, Published September 15 2012

Letter: West Fargo zone change is duplicitous

As a resident of the Villas of Charleswood, I attended the Sept. 10 Zoning Commission meeting in West Fargo. I was extremely disappointed in the opinion of the board that the proposed hotel/conference center was a “use compatible with the area.”

I take exception to several of the comments made by Senior Planner Steven Zimmer and most especially take exception to his condescending attitude. Zimmer commented that this plan had been in the works and discussed as far back as 2000. He also stated that all the land owners and developers in the area were aware of the plan. The developer of my residential division, who is now also a neighbor, stated he was not made aware of any of this until 2008.

Zimmer also pointed to Chapter 5 in the Comprehensive Land Use plan that describes the office development designation as including hotel development. However, Chapter 6, which directly references our specific area, does not mention that at all. To me, this is government duplicity at its best.

Zimmer also commented that office development would allow for a multistory office building without re-zoning and asked what the difference would be. The difference is that an office building is 8 to 5 Monday through Friday. Not nights, weekends and holidays filled with drinking, parties, conventioneers and transient populations. It also does not involve more than 550-person capacity for conferences in addition to hundreds for the hotels and more for retail. Perhaps Mr. Zimmer would like to purchase my home and live next to this.

It is very easy to be flippant about these issues when they don’t impact your daily life. While several of the commissioners were empathetic to our concerns, none were willing to cast a nay vote that would have at least allowed for further discussion of whether the re-zoning was appropriate.

Based on all the conversation, it is my opinion that the city intends for this to go forward no matter what and that the residents in the area are no more than collateral damage. This certainly does not follow suit with what the city and residents state is the most important part of West Fargo – maintaining the established residential areas and the hometown feel that people of West Fargo cherish.

I guess the reality of, “it’s not what you know but who you know” is staring me in the face. I just wasn’t well-connected enough to be told the truth about this lot. I wasn’t in the loop with the city leaders about their determination to use this lot for this purpose when the decision was supposedly made six years before I even considered moving to West Fargo.

What was to be my retirement home is now to be my retirement nightmare.