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Fargo agrees to annexation deal

A divided Fargo City Commission on Monday night sealed the mediated annexation deal with West Fargo, bringing an end to a nearly six-month land battle.

A divided Fargo City Commission on Monday night sealed the mediated annexation deal with West Fargo, bringing an end to a nearly six-month land battle.

Following a 50-minute closed-door executive session, city commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the deal, which gives Fargo two quarter-sections of land and West Fargo 5½ quarters.

"The decision is important because it determines the future growth of Fargo to the west," Fargo Mayor Bruce Furness said. "It was important to get this over with so we can move on to bigger and better things."

City commissioners also agreed to withdraw their appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court over a district judge's ruling for West Fargo in the dispute.

The West Fargo City Commission approved the mediated annexation deal during its Dec. 30 meeting on the condition that Fargo agreed to drop the appeal.


Fargo commissioner John Cosgriff said the dismissal of the appeal means Fargo will have to revert to the district judge's ruling and change the way it does business.

"We will not have the benefit of the Supreme Court clarifying what the process should be," Cosgriff said. "It will be a somewhat radical departure from how we do business."

City planning staff members will review the current policy as it relates to annexation and will make a recommendation at the Jan. 20 Commission meeting.

Meanwhile, the negotiated annexation deal is effective once it's signed by both cities.

The deal gives West Fargo the disputed McMahon Estates and Nelson Acres and stipulates that West Fargo must annex the area within three years, though West Fargo previously had discussed annexing the land over about 15 years.

This became an issue because unannexed property can't be special assessed, Cosgriff said.

If Fargo wanted to do infrastructure projects in the area, the city would have to pay for them alone, he said.

"If West Fargo finishes and continues their annexation, then between Fargo and West Fargo we'll be able to share the costs," Cosgriff said. "But where we have unannexed property, they cannot be special assessed and don't share the costs."


Commissioner Rob Lynch voted against the deal and said he is opposed to the growth precedent the agreement sets. Lynch also said Fargo isn't getting the best deal.

"Acre for acre, Fargo does not receive equal compensation for area that it is releasing to West Fargo," he said.

The deal also draws an imaginary line at 40th Avenue South for the next 10 years. West Fargo has agreed not to seek land south of the divider, and Fargo has said it will not go north of the line.

In addition, Fargo cannot go after land north of 40th Avenue South between 57th Street and County Road 17 at least until 2008. A deal currently is in place that would keep Fargo out of this area until 2005.

"This (mediated) agreement includes time extensions on annexation land from a previous agreement, and this is land that isn't even the subject of this dispute," Lynch said.

Furness, Commissioners Jean Rayl and Thomas Lane voted in favor of the deal.

"From the beginning of this dispute, we've maintained that Fargo needs a pathway west," Lane said. "This agreement preserves this pathway west. Now it's time to put this matter to rest and for both communities to live up to their end of the agreement and move on."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mary Jo Almquist at (701) 241-5531

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