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Roers, city may be headed to court over Fargo townhome squabble

Heated debate at last meeting resulted in several follow-up meetings. An offer on building townhomes may be in the works, too.

An empty dirt lot with a sidewalk running past it.
Construction debris has largely been cleaned up on the site where townhomes are to be built just east of The View apartment complex near North Dakota State University. Fargo City Commissioners harshly criticized Roers president Jim Roers for failing to build the townhomes as agreed by the end of 2021. Photo taken Monday, May 16, 2022.
Archie Ingersoll / The Forum
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FARGO — The squabble over unbuilt townhomes in the midst of the north Fargo Roosevelt neighborhood could be headed to court.

Assistant City Administrator Mike Redlinger and Assistant City Attorney Ian McLean said three meetings were held after a heated May 2 Fargo City Commission meeting where Jim Roers, company president of Roers Development Co., was harshly criticized by several city commissioners for not having the townhomes built by a deadline of last December.

The first meeting was May 9 with Roers, his lawyer and city officials and the second was on May 10 with representatives of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association.

Many neighbors were originally against the apartment complex at 1113 N. University Drive because they believed it would take away from the neighborhood feel and eliminate more single family housing they think is needed to keep the vitality of the neighborhood. The townhomes were a compromise worked out between the two sides.

At a third meeting on May 13, Redlinger said they received an offer from Roers on the issue.

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Redlinger said the offer would be the subject of a closed or executive session of the City Commission prior to their next meeting on Tuesday, May 31.

It will be closed to the public on the recommendation of the city attorney's office because it would involve a possible court case. It could also involve negotiations on the Roers offer, part of the agreement between Roers and the city pertaining to a Tax Increment Financing incentives package.

Mayor Tim Mahoney reminded the city commissioners who have been given a copy of the proposed offer from Roers that it was confidential and shouldn't be made public because of the possible litigation.

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn was the most strident voice on the commission during the May 2 meeting, repeatedly calling Roers a liar who never intended to build the townhomes as part of the project that also includes St. Paul’s Newman Center, faith-based housing and the attached apartments called The View on University Apartments.

Roers asked for more time to build the townhomes on the southeast corner of the project, saying congestion in the area and skyrocketing materials costs each played a part in delaying construction of the townhomes. He said he would agree to a "drop dead" finish time built into the revised townhome agreement.

Roers also sought a prorated disbursement of the TIF funds, which he didn't receive. The TIF was to clean up the site, which included many dilapidated homes and the original Newman Center.

In a further update on Monday night, City Strategic Planner Jim Gilmour said some of the debris on the townhome site, where green space was also required to be put in place, has been mostly cleaned up.

Because work is still continuing on the Newman Center, there still remains some construction materials near the townhome site.

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Gilmour also said the TIF agreement called for possibly four more townhomes on the site, but that land is owned by Catholic Diocese of Fargo and wasn't part of the latest squabble.

Residents are already living in the apartments as well as the faith-based housing. The Newman Center, which neighbors never opposed, is nearing completion, although a new 425-seat chapel may not be completed until next year.

Related Topics: FARGO CITY COMMISSION
An almost 50-year veteran of the newspaper business, Amundson has worked for The Forum and Forum News Service for 15 years. He started as a sport reporter in Minnesota. He is currently the city and night reporter for The Forum. bamundson@forumcomm.com 701-451-5665
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