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Erik Burgess, Published November 30 2013

Fargo residents happy with changes to 52nd Avenue project

FARGO – At least some nearby homeowners are pleased with changes made to a controversial major housing and commercial development in south Fargo, according to an attorney representing the residents.

City planners – who once had sided against the project – will recommend the Planning Commission approve the 148-acre development at a public hearing at 4 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, said Planner Joe Nigg. If approved there, it would go to the City Commission for final approval.

Christianson’s First Addition, the proposed development on the northeast corner of Interstate 29 and 52nd Avenue South, includes apartments, duplexes, townhomes, single-family homes, a large commercial space, assisted living and office space.

Jade Rosenfeldt, an attorney representing several homeowners in the nearby neighborhood of Meadow Creek, said residents there still have “minimal, reasonable” concerns about the development plans.

Lot 25 in the southeast corner of the development, across from Meadow Creek Circle South, is still zoned as “general commercial,” and residents want it changed to “general office,” Rosenfeldt said.

Nate Vollmuth, director of development services of Paces Lodging Corp., the project’s Fargo-based developer, said they intend to put office space there and will change the zoning.

“It won’t be officially changed at the meeting Tuesday because the notices have been sent out, but it’ll be changed afterward,” he said.

Rosenfeldt said Meadow Creek residents she represents are also concerned the developer is planning a gas station on Lot 27, also in the southeast corner of the development, just off of 52nd Avenue South.

A gas station or similar business would bring in a high volume of traffic, which could disrupt nearby homeowners and negatively affect property values, Rosenfeldt said.

“They would just like to keep that corner just office, non-high traffic, commercial entities,” she said.

Nigg said zoning there would allow for a gas station or convenience store, but Vollmuth declined to say if that’s the plan.

City planners opposed the original proposal, which included 900 apartment units, saying it didn’t match the growth plan in the area.

The developer has since adjusted, creating a so-called “buffer zone” of single-family homes between established neighborhoods, like Meadow Creek and Fox Run, and the large commercial zone in the southwest corner of Christianson’s First Addition. The plan now includes only about 200 apartment units.

In a letter to the Planning Commission sent Monday, Rosenfeldt said the residents she represents are “very pleased” with the proposed buffer zone.

Some residents in the area had opposed the project at a public input meeting in October, saying they were concerned about the impact the project might have on traffic in the neighborhood.

Planning Director Jim Gilmour has said there may be conditions attached to approval. For instance, the developer may have to maintain certain design standards and limit the amount of commercial that faces Meadow Creek.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518