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Ruth Swain, West Fargo, Published November 23 2012

West Fargo leaders ignore homeowners’ wishes on land

After receiving the “Memorandum to Property Owners” from the city of West Fargo that the northwest corner of Ninth Street East and Interstate 94 was to be rezoned to permit the development of a hotel/convention center, retail space and a convenience store, I attended the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting as well as the subsequent City Commission meeting.

I was appalled at the feigned “surprise” by the commissioners and city officials that we the general public did not know of their plans to use this site for a hotel/convention center as this had been in the “works” since about 2000.

However, if they wanted the public to know, it would have been stated in no uncertain terms that this was the proposed site for a future hotel/convention center/gas station instead of their ambiguous at best wordage: “For the areas immediately north of I-94 the land use plan supports the development of office development. One of the reasons for the office development adjacent to I-94 is to provide a buffer for residential developments to the north.”

In Plan Goal 2 under Community Development, Design and Housing, the following objective is listed: “To preserve the integrity of established residential neighborhoods by limiting the intrusion of incompatible uses.” Allowing a hotel/convention center to be built (by allowing the zoning to commercial) in a residential neighborhood and next to a school is not preserving the integrity of the established neighborhoods of The Villas at Charleswood and The Evergreens. Residents deserved to know and thus have a choice as to whether they wanted to build in the areas.

By the general public, Realtors and developers not knowing of the city’s plan, more than 100 housing units were built since 2000, giving the city between $25 million and $30 million in new property to add to their tax base. Several prospective buyers have “put their plans on hold” after hearing of the proposed commercial development just 75 feet away from The Villas at Charleswood. Putting commercial in the midst of a residential neighborhood will ensure that property appraisals will go down and may render some homes unsellable.

Apparently for our elected city officials, this just isn’t a concern.