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Boys and Girls Ranch wants city to annex land south of Fargo

The Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch will get a second shot at having land it owns on the south edge of Fargo annexed into the city as part of its plan to build a new residential treatment facility for area youths.

Map of possible annexation area

The Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch will get a second shot at having land it owns on the south edge of Fargo annexed into the city as part of its plan to build a new residential treatment facility for area youths.

The Fargo Planning Commission voted 5-1 on Wednesday to approve the agency's request to annex 36 acres.

The City Commission will be asked to vote on the request Monday, said City Planner Jim Gilmour.

Last June, the City Commission denied an annexation request due to concerns over utilities, and police and fire service, said Tim Eissinger, vice president of programming for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. There were also protests from homeowners in the Round Hill subdivision, he said.

But the city has, literally, changed since then.

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The city annexed land to 76th Avenue South to include Judge Ronald N. Davies High School, now under construction. That action included four acres of Boys and Girls Ranch land south of 76th Avenue South, Gilmour said.

The Boys and Girls Ranch wants to consolidate its four Fargo facilities into one, Eissinger said.

The agency helps youths ages 11 to 17 with emotional, behavioral and educational challenges, Eissinger said.

The faith-based agency has ties to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It works with the Fargo School District to provide schooling, he said.

If the property is annexed, Eissinger said construction of a 16-bed treatment center and educational facility would likely start next year. He estimates the initial cost at $4 million to $5 million.

A gymnasium, chapel and outpatient clinic are planned additions over five to 10 years, he said.

Eissinger has heard little from neighbors this time.

"We've always had the olive branch and the invitation extended to let those folks come to get to know us and our operations," he said. "We haven't had a real great response."

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He said city commissioners have toured the agency's facilities.

"I really get a sense that they're much more comfortable with what we do," Eissinger said.

The ranch originally purchased 80 acres, but sold 40 acres on the south side of the parcel to a private holding company, according to Gilmour and Eissinger.

Gilmour said it would be to the city's advantage to annex the land.

Planning Commissioner Rich Slagle, who voted against the request, questioned whether the city should annex parcels in a piecemeal fashion, rather than larger areas as part of a strategic plan.

"I think there is an elephant in the room," Slagle said, citing continued expansion south and problems with flood protection.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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