Tree cutting ignites Moorhead controversy
If a tree falls in the Park Christian neighborhood, Pam Quiggle doesn't want to hear it. Quiggle is one of several residents upset that a city-planned housing development in north Moorhead means cutting down parts of a stand of trees that hav...
If a tree falls in the Park Christian neighborhood, Pam Quiggle doesn't want to hear it.
Quiggle is one of several residents upset that a city-planned housing development in north Moorhead means cutting down parts of a stand of trees that have long been a buffer and a benefit for the neighborhood.
The trees, which line two sides of a 2½ block area north of Park Christian School, are being cut to allow the passage of two roads and the building of a storm retention pond, to protect the existing and new houses from rainwater, said City Planner Matt Glaesman.
The city is preserving as many trees as it can, and after residents and First Ward Councilwoman Nancy Otto protested the cutting, plans were revised to make the retention pond narrower and deeper, saving more trees Glaesman said.
But Quiggle, who grew up in the neighborhood and whose mother still lives next to the wooded area, said she cannot understand why the city didn't place the development behind the trees.
"People birdwatch in those woods, lots of families like to walk in the woods -- as kids we played there," Quiggle said.
"The neighborhood can't believe that they're doing this, but what can we do?"
The development causing all this furor will consist of about two dozen houses, built in a neo-traditional design with front porches and back alleys, Glaesman said. They will be offered to families that couldn't afford a traditional mortgage, with assistance from the city and the state Home at Last program, said Community Development Planner Lisa Vatnsdal.
The city will donate the cost of buying the land -- the whole parcel cost $56,000 -- and the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund will help with a no-interest second mortgage for home buyers, Vatnsdal said. The houses' price range will be around $115,000 to $125,000.
The city also is spending $430,000 on adding infrastructure to the area, said Assistant City Engineer Clair Hanson, but those costs will be recouped from the new owners. The price of the houses will be driven up, however, by the need to raise the area to the level of the existing development -- that will add about $6,000 to the cost of each lot, Hanson said.
Councilwoman Otto isn't arguing about the worth of the project -- but she thinks the neighborhood and council should have been better informed, she said.
"The city gave their word to those neighbors that they were going to preserve the bulk of those trees," she said.
Glaesman said the plans to put in a retention pond were made after the neighborhood meetings, when the city compromised with residents on several other points. But the pond plan was publicized when the Planning Commission considered the project.
Still, Otto feels she was kept in the dark.
"They just decided without citizen or council input that this retention pond would be there and these 100-year-old trees would not," she said.
"This is not how a city manager form of government is supposed to operate."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Joy Anderson at (701) 241-5556