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College living zoned

Fargo city planners are a step closer to creating a new zoning plan near North Dakota State University designed to improve student housing, while preserving and revitalizing the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Fargo city planners are a step closer to creating a new zoning plan near North Dakota State University designed to improve student housing, while preserving and revitalizing the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Planner Nicole Crutchfield told the Planning Commission on Wednesday that creating a University Mixed Use zone should ease pressure in the area to convert single-family homes into multifamily apartments for student use.

The plan is also designed to create a mix of housing and shops friendly to student lifestyles, she said.

"This is really exciting," Commissioner Catherine Wiley said.

"Overall, I think we're supportive of the concept," said Jim Laschkewitsch, vice president of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association.

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Crutchfield said initial efforts would be concentrated south of NDSU and west of Johnson Park.

The UMU proposal won't affect single-family homes, but will require higher-density housing for new apartment buildings - a minimum of 18 units per acre. While requiring higher-quality building materials, the buildings can also be as tall as five stories, Crutchfield said.

New apartment and condo units in the area will be required to have one parking space per living unit - a move designed to encourage the use of alternative transportation, such as biking, walking or taking a bus, Crutchfield said.

Area residents said they favored the UMU zone concept, but they and planning commissioners said more work was needed - especially on parking.

Commissioner Rich Slagle said planning for one vehicle per apartment or condo was "just asking for trouble."

Laschkewitsch said more must be done to communicate with area residents and to address parking. He also said he didn't want the commercial aspects of the zone to spawn too many strip malls.

"Doing it well is what I think is important," Laschkewitsch said.

But, he added, "It's a way to clean up some blighted properties, it's a way to make a great university setting, and it's a way to take pressure off the neighborhood."

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Sandra Holbrook, who lives at 1018 15th St. N., said she'd like homeowners to be made more aware of the process, saying she learned of the meeting Sunday.

Her husband, Frederick Holbrook, liked the plan, but said allowing five-story apartment buildings next to single-family homes "makes absolutely no sense."

Commission Chairman John Q. Paulsen urged commissioners to delay a decision until August. He noted the group did not have a quorum by the end of the debate, and said he wanted city staff to re-examine the zoning plans and work more with area residents.

Commissioners agreed to take up the issue in August.

Crutchfield said she wants meet with Roosevelt-area residents within three weeks.

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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