North Fargo neighbors still very opposed to student apartments

FARGO - Residents of a north Fargo neighborhood say a proposed student apartment complex threatens the "small family feeling" they cherish.
Neighbors pack the gym at McKinley Elementary School in north Fargo to protest a proposed apartment complex. Adrian Glass-Moore / The Forum
Neighbors pack the gym at McKinley Elementary School in north Fargo to protest a proposed apartment complex. Adrian Glass-Moore / The Forum

FARGO – Residents of a north Fargo neighborhood say a proposed student apartment complex threatens the "small family feeling" they cherish.

They want more single-family housing and senior living centers, not apartment buildings like the ones proposed at 1202 32nd Ave. N.

Larry Nygard of Roers Development, the company behind the project, tried to persuade an angry group of 100 people, packed into the McKinley Elementary School gym, that the project would be OK for the neighborhood.

"I don't know that it'll hurt you, but I don't know that it'll benefit you," he said.

Nygard said his company took into consideration complaints heard at a meeting held for neighborhood residents in January.

In light of people's concerns, Roers made some changes, including the decision to add 16 units of single-family housing in the development, Nygard said.

Twinhomes would line 32nd Avenue, and student apartment buildings would sit behind them.

"We continued to move the buildings back further into the development," Nygard said.

But the changes, which he described as "real significant," failed to impress residents.

They say an apartment complex designed to house perhaps 700 students enrolled at North Dakota State University, located a mile away, will be ugly, reduce property values and cause a traffic nightmare on already busy 10th Street.

Residents also say the neighborhood needs to attract more families, not college students, to preserve the area's character and bolster the elementary school.

The developer needs the Fargo Planning Commission's approval to rezone part of the land for higher-density living.

The Planning Commission considered the request Feb. 2, when many residents showed up to protest the request. Commissioners voted to postpone a decision until their next meeting, which is at 3 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Nygard told residents that a traffic study shows the proposed apartment complex would only put an extra 250 vehicles on 10th Street daily.

Residents weren't buying it, considering the size of the complex.

"I can't see this making any sense, none," said Pepper Eisenhardt, who lives on 10th Street.

Nygard offered to let residents meet with the traffic engineer behind the study.

But as the meeting dragged on for more than an hour, it became clear that residents' opposition would remain steadfast.

"We need single-family homes ... we need senior living centers," one woman told Nygard.

"You're not helping this neighborhood at all," she added, to applause.