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



Flood plan slowed by cost clash

Figuring out how to charge property owners for Fargo's Southside Flood Control Project is taking longer than expected and forcing changes to the project schedule.

Graphic: Assessment district

Figuring out how to charge property owners for Fargo's Southside Flood Control Project is taking longer than expected and forcing changes to the project schedule.

A timeline presented in May had Fargo city commissioners choosing a preferred alternative this coming Monday.

But that won't happen, and it was clear from Friday's meeting of the Southeast Cass Water Resource District Board that officials are still several weeks away from a solid plan to fund the local share of the project.

"There are two things people want to know: What are you going to do, and what is it going to cost me? And that's what we're trying to figure out," said April Walker, Fargo's storm sewer utility engineer.

District board members continued to wade through assessment scenarios Friday with Fargo's project consultant, Jeffry Volk of Moore Engineering Inc., who is also the district's engineer.


The dike project is designed to protect areas of south Fargo and south of the city by holding back and, in some cases, diverting floodwaters from the Wild Rice River.

City leaders and an advisory group are reviewing seven project alternatives ranging from $55 million to $115 million, according to the latest estimates provided Friday.

The local share of the project is estimated at $22 million to $52 million, depending on which alternative is chosen. Officials have used a figure of $25 million to determine the assessment process.

Under one scenario, residential and commercial properties would evenly split the local share. The average assessment would be $1,522 for residential parcels and $9,333 for commercial parcels, payable over 25 years.

The proposed assessment district encompasses an area bordered by Interstate 94 on the north, University Drive and the Wild Rice River on the east, 136th Avenue South on the south and an old railroad line that serves as a natural levee on the west.

A majority of property owners in the assessment district would have to approve it.

"You get a vote for every dollar you're proposed to be assessed for, so ultimately the people will decide," district Manager Mark Thelen said.

For many, that decision may come down to the lesser of two evils: paying the assessment or continuing to fork out flood insurance premiums because their home lies within the floodplain.


The flood control project will be built to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards to allow protected properties to be removed from the floodplain, Volk said.

Stanley Township Zoning Administrator Perry Ronning said one homeowner in the Roundhill subdivision south of Fargo pays $4,000 annually for flood insurance.

"At that kind of cost, if you could take a person like that out (of the floodplain), they would see a large benefit," he said.

But Ronning objected to his Horace home being in the proposed assessment district, saying he already paid for the Sheyenne Diversion.

"I'd have a real problem with that," he said.

District managers also discussed how to assess property that sits outside the assessment district but would still receive indirect benefits from the project. That includes all Fargo residents north of I-94 who would benefit from the sewer system not failing, Thelen said.

Walker said Fargo officials still hope to begin construction of the project in 2010.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

What To Read Next
Get Local