FARGO — Despite impassioned pleas from neighbors, the Fargo City Commission voted unanimously to approve a 40-lot single-family housing development just south of Davies High School in what is currently greenspace.
The neighbors, including Matt Kosack, who was the only resident to testify at the hearing, said they had been told when buying homes that it was park district land and that they wanted to see a park or similar project instead of more housing.
"My trust in the city has been damaged," Kosack said.
Fargo Park District Executive Director Dave Leker said the original plan was to build a hockey facility with two rinks there. However, with plans developing for a new indoor sports complex nearby, they made an agreement with the developer, Jon Youness of Eagle Ridge Development, that if they they didn't use the land it would be sold back to him at the same price.
Many of the neighbors didn't have that understanding and said they were told the Eagle Valley land would be greenspace with amenities available for public use.
"As Fargo swallows up the nearby landscape, be thoughtful and proactive in leaving more green space for our children, current and future residents, as we were told it would be," wrote Andrea Fogderud.
Jim and Ade Miller wrote they "were told there was no plans or intentions for this land to be developed into anything other than possible added park space or some sort of water feature making the neighborhood more attractive, raising real estate values, etc."
The couple also said they talked to a Davies High School principal and learned that the school was near capacity. They said more housing would compound the problem.
Travis and Nikki Carden wrote they hoped "a decision will be made to keep the existing neighborhood families happy and not the developer."
Cara Keller said she "would not begin to review how unethical this is now that every house has been built along 21st Street South."
However, besides the agreement between the park board and the developer, Commissioner Arlette Preston had planning officials point out the 4-acre park just south of the land in question that is adjacent to a 10-acre retention pond with trails.
With those parcels, she said she believed the developer followed regulations relating to park land or greenspace.
Also nearby is Davies High School Athletic Complex, offering more recreational opportunities and greenspace, the planners wrote.
The city's zoning commission approved the change on a 7-1 vote before sending the proposal to the City Commission. It was noted that the developer made compromises in earlier discussions with neighbors by eliminating a plan to construct multi-housing townhomes on a two-acre parcel of the open land that would have added to the density of housing in the area.
The planning board also wrote to the commissioners that the new housing development wouldn't affect the value of properties in the area.