FARGO — Fargo is growing — this time land-wise — as 171 acres were annexed to the city's south side upon approval by the Fargo City Commission Monday, July 15.

The land, owned by Earlyne Hector and being developed by R S Carey Land Co. of Moorhead, will involve an area south of 64th Avenue South and just east of Interstate 29, but northwest of Davies High School in south Fargo. The annexation was initiated by the landowner, not the city.

The annexed land could also include a new fire station as the city is working on a land swap with the developer. The city would like to put the fire station closer to I-29 and adjacent to 64th Avenue, which will be improved to a three-lane roadway next year. The city has also approved building an overpass on 64th Avenue across I-29 to provide access from the east side to the western side of the interstate.

The annexed area will be called Selkirk Place First Addition.

Developer Scott Carey said in an interview Thursday, July 18, that it's the first new development, besides a development addition, in the city in three years.

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He said 45 lots are planned in the first phase, with up to 180 possible in future years.

"It's going to be a really, really nice development," Carey said. Some of the features include two large ponds in a low area of the acreage, bike trails and berms to help with any water issues. A new recreation area is planned just across the interstate by the city park district and Sanford Health.

Carey said the city hopes to start putting in streets in the area this fall.

"We're going to have nice-sized lots, with some on ponds and moderately priced," he said.

City Commissioner John Strand raised concern about annexing the land in the meeting, wondering if more homes should be built in a flood plain and before the F-M Diversion project advances.

However, Mayor Tim Mahoney said a lot of the area being developed in south Fargo and many existing neighborhoods are already in what some consider a flood plain, although the definition is up to interpretation. He said there can be such requirements as flood-proof basements for construction in the area. The diversion could help in easing any flood plain concerns in that area.

Farmers and landowners in some parts of that area and across the river in Minnesota have been complaining that the diversion is only a way to benefit developers and the city of Fargo and have fought to stop the diversion project.

Carey, however, said they are doing everything they can to get a flood plain exclusion. He said it should be OK.

Also, he said the newly annexed land is an "infill" project because many of the homes and the school complex are further to the southeast, even further from the old city limits.

Last Monday, the city commissioners also approved a zoning change from agricultural to residential and commercial for the 171 acres after a public hearing where no one spoke.

Commissioners also approved a zoning change from agricultural to residential for the nearby Madelyn's Meadows Second Addition housing development along 25th Street South closer to the school complex.

City planner Donald Kress said the first addition of Madelyn's Meadows was the last parcel of land annexed to the city, and it was approved in June of last year.