FARGO — In a 5-4 vote Tuesday evening, Dec. 4, the Fargo Planning Commission gave its approval to revamped plans for the St. Paul's Newman Center addition project, some aspects of which remained unacceptable Tuesday to some members of Fargo's Roosevelt neighborhood.
Prior to the vote, planning commission members heard from Donald Kress, planning coordinator for the city, who outlined how plans for the proposed addition have changed since residents of the Roosevelt neighborhood raised objections to some parts of the project, particularly plans for apartment units that would be offered to the general public, including college students.
Other facets of the project involve revamping of the current Newman Center and the addition of "faith-based housing," facets which have not been the focus of neighborhood worries.
Kress told planning commissioners Tuesday that in response to neighborhood concerns, the developer of the project, Roers, a construction and development company, modified its plans in several ways, including dropping the number of market-based apartment units from 107 to 87.
The revamped proposal also includes 13 town homes, which some neighborhood residents who spoke at Tuesday's meeting welcomed as a way of buffering the project from the surrounding neighborhood.
The revised plans also reduce the height of some proposed structures from six stories high to five and four stories high. The new plans also drop the number of faith-based housing units from 29 to 25.
Ken Enockson, who spoke on behalf of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, said the changes in the proposed plan were a step in the right direction, but he said many in the association felt there was still room for improvement.
Another Roosevelt neighbor, Harold Thompson, described the proposal as still "too tall, too dense" and still too short on parking.
Thompson said he was encouraged by the inclusion of town homes in the plan, but said neighbors he has talked to would still like to see the population density of the project drop further by eliminating more apartment units and including more town homes.
Larry Nygard, vice president of Roers, said more town homes had been considered, but he said it was ultimately decided that building more would present too large a risk, as it wasn't known how well town homes might sell.
Nygard said after all of the discussion and given all of the things that had to be balanced in the project, "This is where we land."
City staff said it is possible the project will come before the City Commission sometime in January.
Planning commission members voting to recommend the latest Newman Center project plans included John Gunkelman, Rocky Schneider, Mary Scherling, Shara Fischer and Jennifer Holtz. Members who did not support a recommendation included Scott Stofferahn, Dawn Morgan, Brad Bachmeier and Maranda Tasa.
Commissioner Melissa Sobolik was absent and commissioner Mike Magelky abstained.