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Helmut Schmidt, Published July 12 2013

West Fargo to consider revamping gun law

WEST FARGO – Judges and retired law enforcement officers would be able to carry guns and other weapons in public places in an ordinance update going to a City Commission vote Monday.

The commission will also be asked to decide how to rebuild Seventh Avenue East from 17th Street to 45th Street in Fargo.

The weapons law is being updated to conform with changes in state law, City Administrator Jim Brownlee and City Attorney Brian Neugebauer said Friday.

The changes make it illegal to have any dangerous weapon, not just firearms, at a public gathering, park or publicly owned or operated building, including schools.

Judges, staff at the state attorney general’s office and retired law enforcement officers would be on a list of exemptions to the no-weapons law.

Exemptions include: on-duty members of the military; competitors in shooting events, gun or antique shows; hunter safety class participants; private security personnel and current law enforcement officers, transporting weapons in vehicles, instructors and other officials; and participants at weapons training events, or using blank cartridges at a sporting or theater event.

The word firearm was added to a section of the ordinance that allows the concealed carry of weapons by people licensed to do so in other states – as long as those states offer reciprocity to North Dakota.

Violating the ordinance is a Class B misdemeanor.

The Seventh Avenue East project is a joint endeavor with the city of Fargo because the east-west road between 17th Street East and 45th Street South is part of the border between the two cities.

The project would continue work done from Ninth Street East to 17th Street East in West Fargo, Brownlee and Mayor Rich Mattern said.

Four alternates will be considered, including doing nothing, but Brownlee and Mattern said that’s not really an option.

“The street is in pretty bad shape,” Brownlee said.

Mattern said the road is particularly busy when students go to West Fargo High School in the morning, and leave in the afternoon.

“What is the quickest way to get these young people in and out of there safely?” Mattern asked.

City staff recommend rebuilding the road at two lanes over 41 feet, with protected on-street parking lanes 10 feet wide. The cost of that alternative is $1,095,441, with 80 percent, or $847,775, picked up by the federal government. The remaining $199,766 cost is split between Fargo and West Fargo, documents show.

Water, sewer and other underground utility work would cost West Fargo $222,100, while Fargo would pay $166,975.

Rebuilding the road as is costs $1.139,015, not including underground work.

Rebuilding it as a two-lane road with a median would cost $1,121,835, not including underground work. The road would be 49 feet wide, with the median being 15 feet wide.

The commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583