Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Crestwood residents say buyout offers too low

MOORHEAD - Red River flooding has ravaged riverbanks so much in the Crestwood neighborhood, widespread slumping has carved huge drop-offs behind several homes, including Jan Turner's.

MOORHEAD - Red River flooding has ravaged riverbanks so much in the Crestwood neighborhood, widespread slumping has carved huge drop-offs behind several homes, including Jan Turner's.

Much of her backyard now lies in the riverbed, and she says her septic system is surfacing because of it.

"If you walk out of the house and go just a few feet out, it's a 10-foot drop," said Turner, a 15-year resident of the neighborhood south of Moorhead.

Ongoing problems like that are why Turner and 17 other Crestwood property owners are the target of flood buyouts this month - but Clay County officials and the residents are at odds over whether the offers are fair.

Several residents said they feel they're being short-changed by unreasonably low offers, especially in comparison to what other bought-out residents in the metro area have received in the past.


But Clay leaders contend the voluntary offers are sensible, because only the effected property owners benefit and the county is already facing its own budget pressures.

Clay County is offering 87.5 percent of the highest market value in the last three years for the 18 Crestwood properties and 13 others in the county.

In comparison, other local governments have offered 108 percent or more of a property's market value to secure similar buyouts.

Under Clay County's program, the 12.5-percent gap between the value and the offer amounts to about $864,000, which will make up the bulk of the county's local share for the buyout program, said planning director Tim Magnusson.

Minnesota has allocated up to $7 million toward Clay County flood buyouts, including $5 million this year alone, but the county is required to match up to $1 million.

That's a burden leaders say they can't ask all residents to bear, in part, because of strained budget circumstances this year.

But more distinctively, Commissioner Kevin Campbell said the below-value offers are prompted by limited benefit from doing the buyouts at all.

Unlike buyout programs in Fargo, Cass County and even Moorhead, removing the 31 properties on Clay County's list won't have any advantages for other residents, he said.


"They're being bought out for one reason, to get them out of a flood-prone area," Campbell said. "There's no secondary advantage to the county do this."

In contrast, properties elsewhere, such as 60 homes in Oakport Township north of Moorhead, were bought out to protect additional residents and install flood protection measures with widespread benefits, he said.

Still, Crestwood residents said they don't feel they should be made to sacrifice to make up the county's portion of the buyout funding. Several said they don't plan to accept the offers at the current rate.

"We should be treated as any other resident in the buyout situation," Turner said. "They're not willing to listen to us."

Under the 87.5 percent offer, residents stand to lose anywhere between $13,000 to $41,400 on the value of their homes.

That's a hard pill to swallow for some residents more than others, depending on their personal circumstances.

"I think Crestwood property owners understand some of the challenges the county board is up against, but so far there has not been good communication in this process," Crestwood resident Dave Sederquist said.

"This offer only adds to the stress and turmoil our neighborhood is experiencing, as we try to plan our living arrangements for the coming months," he added.


Campbell stressed the buyout program is voluntary and no property owner is obligated to leave if they don't accept the county's offer.

But if the homes were put up for sale on the open market, the properties probably wouldn't sell at all, Campbell said.

"We're trying to give them something where they can get out of there and have the opportunity to leave," he said.

To cover the entire local share for the buyouts, the county would have to raise every resident's taxes by 4 percent.

County leaders said they can't justify that when only 31 properties benefit from such a cost.

"I know they're not happy about it, but our entire county wouldn't be happy if we raised their taxes," Campbell said.

Clay residents will already see a 4-percent property tax hike next year because of consequences from the state budget debacle this summer.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541

What To Read Next
Get Local