FARGO — As key votes lie ahead for a controversial southwest Fargo housing development, about 40 neighbors and the developer met for a second time at City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 14, and discussed what has emerged as a start to a possible compromise.
Jon Youness of EagleRidge Development, who stated he wouldn't buy the 41-acre parcel that is now zoned agricultural unless he was able to construct at least some multi-family structures in the development, said he met twice with four neighbors representing surrounding homeowners and discussed several changes.
Among those were a reconfiguration and lowering of the number of single-family lots from 121 to 108 in what's being called the Valley View development. They also discussed increasing some lot sizes, adding a 40-foot-wide trail area to serve as a buffer to another nearby neighborhood and verifying what would be done in a 3-acre parcel next to 36th Avenue South, just across the street from yet another neighborhood.
The area, which is now an open field, is northeast of what neighbors said was an already crowded Independence Elementary School, south of 36th Avenue and west of the main thoroughfare of 45th Street South.
This second neighborhood meeting, which lasted two hours, touched on a number of concerns that remained, although neighbor Laura Stebleton warned the crowd that "something is going to happen there."
What concerned most of the residents at the meeting was the possibility of apartments on a 9-acre parcel next to the single-family home lots under the proposed zoning change, which could mean increased density and traffic.
Neighbor Glenn Stults said "there are already so many apartment buildings around us." Another neighbor, Bryan McCrea, echoed, saying there were already "more than enough apartments" in south Fargo.
Planning Director Nicole Crutchfield pointed out that an original plan called for apartment buildings throughout the 41 acres.
Despite the opposition of Stults and the other neighbors to large apartment buildings on the 9-acre parcel, they seemed open to the seven-plexes or four-unit town homes that Youness said are in the plans.
Stults and several others said when they purchased their homes in that area they were told it would only be single-family homes built in the huge open field.
To address the apartment issue, city planners and Youness said they favored asking the city's Planning and Zoning Commission or the city commissioners for a waiver to allow the multi-unit homes that Youness wants to see built on the 9-acre parcel, but would prevent the construction of any large apartment buildings.
Crutchfield told the crowd that there aren't enough housing choices in the city and noted that a goal is to have a mix of housing types, income levels and diversity in neighborhoods. She also said a traffic study could be conducted on 36th Avenue to address the capacity issue and to see if streetlights or stop signs were needed.
As for the neighbors' other concerns, City Planner Donald Kress said they had been working with the Fargo Park District and they agreed to help with the new buffer trail that would tie into other trails in the area. As for the 3-acre parcel next to 36th Avenue, Youness said they agreed to plot that area with 19 single-family home lots to again eliminate concerns that multifamily units would be built close to the road or add to density and traffic.
The zoning change and other land-use changes needed in the area next go to the Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 4. Depending on what's done there, it could also go before the city commissioners sometime after that for a final decision.