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Boys Ranch rezoning request rejected

The Fargo Planning Commission voted 5-2 Wednesday against rezoning land just south of the city that's owned by Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. The vote represents a second loss for the agency, which tried unsuccessfully last year to get the land ann...

Graphic: Location

The Fargo Planning Commission voted 5-2 Wednesday against rezoning land just south of the city that's owned by Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.

The vote represents a second loss for the agency, which tried unsuccessfully last year to get the land annexed into the city so it could build a residential treatment facility and consolidate its four Fargo facilities.

Opposition to the treatment center from residents in the Round Hill, Granberg, Amber Plains, Chrisan Estates and Martens Way neighborhoods, including e-mails, testimony, and submission of a Fargo Police log of calls to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch facilities, helped sink the effort.

"It's a setback," said Tim Eissinger, vice president of programming for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.

Eissinger said it's is now up to the agency's board to determine its next step.

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The land, about 40 acres south of 76th Avenue South and a quarter-mile east of 25th Street South, is in the city's extraterritorial zone.

Jim Carlson, president of the Round Hill Homeowners Association, said no one opposes the agency's mission of care and therapy for young people, but the site was wrong.

"We are dealing with challenged juveniles that need treatment," Carlson said. "We don't want that in our area."

Carlson and others said they felt the facility would cut home values, some of which are worth $1 million.

The facility also was opposed by the Stanley Township Board.

Perry Ronning, who represented the township, said the facility would not have enough police or fire service, and water, sewer and roads were inadequate.

Fargo City Engineer Mark Bittner countered that sewer and water service and roads would improve with the building of nearby Judge Ronald N. Davies High School.

Senior Planner Jim Hinderaker said the facility met all of the city's criteria for the rezoning.

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Commissioners Jeffrey Morrau and Jan Ulferts Stewart voted to rezone.

Commissioners voting against the rezoning said questions about flood control and services had not been adequately addressed.

Commissioner Catherine Wiley said she was uncomfortable with voting for rezoning, given the calls in the police log. "I just have too many questions on how this will impact" the neighbors, she said.

The Fargo City Commission must still decide whether to finalize a request to annex the land at its June 15 meeting.

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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