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Wendy Reuer, Published October 03 2013

Proposed development worries far south Fargo residents

FARGO – In response to an outcry from residents who oppose the plan, developers drastically cut their proposal to put up to 900 apartments in a 148-acre site on the northeast corner of 52nd Avenue South and Interstate 29 known as the Christianson’s First Addition.

In exchange, developers want to increase the number of acres zoned for commercial business, a proposal that raised the ire of many residents in nearby neighborhoods during a public meeting Thursday night at Centennial Elementary.

Paces Lodging’s latest plan for the development would include about 65 acres of commercially zoned land, instead of the 45 acres of commercial and office space plotted in a plan submitted in August. The current plan would also include about 100 single-family homes and multifamily zoning that would allow for up to 200 apartment units.

To move forward with the development, the Fargo-based development company fronted by Kevin Christianson is asking the city to amend its 2007 growth plan and zoning for the area.

The area has been a hotbed for rumors of a Super Target coming, but Christianson told the crowd of about 40 residents Thursday that there is no truth to the rumors and that no business has signed on to the development at this time.

Although one person said at the meeting he supported the project, many others, like Jay Manley, showed concern. He said the project would be detrimental to the neighborhood.

Manley said he moved to that area in 1998 after examining the growth plan and finding an area he felt was suitable for raising a family.

Christianson said if the plan moves forward, construction on the single-family homes would begin first, creating a sight and sound buffer between existing homes and eventual commercial development.

Nate Vollmuth, director of development services for Paces Lodging, said that the lots for single-family homes are about 10 percent larger than those in surrounding areas such as Fox Run.

A living fence and natural berm will also be built around the commercial area as a buffer.

Still, many residents were worried about what increased commercial development will do their neighborhoods.

Planning Administrator Nicole Crutchfield said to put the commercial area’s scale in perspective, the 52nd Avenue Wal-Mart has a footprint of about 22 acres. The TJ Maxx Plaza on 13th Avenue South is about 13 acres.

Crutchfield said residents have expressed their concern about the impact on traffic the development will bring.

Paces Lodging and the city have embarked on a traffic study of the area and will examine the impact in and out of the development from 40th Avenue South to 52nd Avenue and from Interstate 29 to 32nd Street South.

Crutchfield said the city is considering the 2007 growth plan amendments because the area has changed since it was created. The size of a storm retention area was greatly increased from what was planned after the 2009 flood and subsequent floods that make a connecting road into Meadow Creek no longer feasible.

“I’d like to encourage you to look at the plan with fresh eyes,” she said.

The traffic study is expected to be finished by the end of this month.

Paces Lodging’s proposal will be considered by the Planning Commission at 4 p.m. on Nov. 4 if the traffic study is completed in time.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530