FARGO — A plan to develop homes in far south Fargo in what was slated to be a commercial zone has been sent back to the planning and zoning commission by Fargo city commissioners to try to work out a compromise.
Jon Youness, development director for EagleRidge Development, said they would like to build about 43 affordable homes in the $200,000 to $250,000 range in the 7.5-acre parcel of land that is near Davies High School and a park.
The city's planning department, however, has targeted the area as commercial in its growth plan to provide services to residents in the fast-growing residential area.
The land in question is at the corner of 25th Street and 76th Avenue South. The avenue is slated to become an arterial road, thus it was noted it would be a busy street, with an overpass or possible interchange on Interstate 29 nearby.
The planning and zoning commission voted at an earlier meeting to deny the change in the growth plan and keep it as a commercial area.
However, Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig said the location was an ideal spot for homes because of its proximity to Davies, which is only about 800 feet away, and the park. A splash pad at the school is also available to children.
"It's a perfect residential area," Piepkorn said.
Gehrig added what would go in the commercial zone would likely be another strip mall.
He said the market should determine what should go into that area, and the developer believes its should be homes.
"I think city government needs to be flexible" when such situations arise, Gehrig said.
Commissioner Arlette Preston, however, said the city shouldn't back away from the growth plan as it provides predictability, and changing it can "cause confusion for the neighborhood."
It was noted that land to the west, south and southwest of the 25th Street and 76th Avenue intersection hasn't been annexed to the city yet, although a preliminary plan would suggest commercial property could be offered there.
Youness said after the meeting that the reason they could offer the more affordable homes is that the lots would be smaller at 40 feet wide by 130 feet long, lowering the cost of land and special assessments with minimal excess improvements and an efficient layout.
Commissioner John Strand, a strong proponent of more affordable homes in the city, said he wouldn't want to see an apartment building there.
He wondered if there was a more creative compromise on the property and suggested it be sent back to the planning and zoning commission and city staff.
After several motions failed to advance, a motion to refer it back for further consideration passed 4-1, with Preston the lone vote against it.
Youness said he would work with city staff in the coming weeks to try to see what could be done.
"It takes collaboration to get some things done," he said, noting that working with city staff and neighbors can result in compromises.