City Commission sides with south Fargo residents over duplex developer
FARGO — The residents won this one.
After about six city residents from a neighborhood called Timber Creek, near 52nd Avenue South and Interstate 29 in south Fargo, spoke against a zoning change, the Fargo City Commission on Monday, Nov. 4, voted against a developer who wanted to build duplexes in what they say was an area they were promised would be single-family homes.
Matthew Bring, one of the residents who led the monthslong charge against the proposal to allow seven lots to be rezoned, said the issue boiled down to whether the commission wanted to support "the residents or the developers."
He and others, including 35 who signed a petition against the rezoning, said they were worried about their property values dropping if the already congested 47th Avenue South had 14 more renters or homeowners in the area. They were "promised" in a city commission meeting about three or four years ago that there would be more single-family homes in the neighborhood.
Mayor Tim Mahoney and Commissioner Tony Gehrig voted against the rezoning, in opposition to the city's planning office and the planning and zoning commission.
Those two votes were enough to stop the change as a supermajority or three votes on the five-member commission was needed to change the zoning. Voting to support the zoning change were Commissioners Tony Grindberg, Dave Piepkorn and John Strand.
Strand said he continues to be concerned about more affordable housing, and perhaps the proposal by developer Don Dabbert Jr. of Dabbert Custom Homes would have been a small move in that direction as not all potential homeowners can afford a single-family home. Strand and Dabbert said duplexes and twin homes were the way many neighborhoods were going to make homes more affordable.
Neighbors weren't convinced, however.
Heidi Kvistad, who lives across from the undeveloped lots, said she was concerned about parking along the street as there were many other cars from neighboring homes and even a nearby apartment building clogging the street, which made it especially difficult in the winter as snow piled up and the street became almost impassable at times.
Emily Hoehne, whose family has a home along the street, told the commission she thought they were going to be in a "safe and quiet" neighborhood when they bought their home.
She feared for the safety of her children and others that live there with the increased traffic that the duplexes might bring.
Bring said the "not in my backyard" argument didn't hold true and they did not want to keep out renters and low-income residents. He simply said the neighborhood was "promised" single-family homes, and this was a step in the wrong direction.
Dabbert said he was not the original developer but purchased the lots in 2014. He said he already talked to two families interested in buying the duplexes who would have their older parents live in the other part of the duplex.
He said the block was being "underutilized" and that it was just a way to offer homes that were more affordable.
However, Gehrig and Mahoney said they believed the neighborhood was promised more single-family homes and that it should be honored, despite what Gehrig said was his respect for Dabbert and his many housing projects in the city.
Grindberg said he was the liaison to the planning board and office and felt like he had to stick with their recommendation. The planning and zoning commission voted 6-1 at a meeting last month to approve the rezoning.