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Letter: A longtime businessman and state senator should know better

Laughlin writes, "At a recent Fargo City Commission meeting, Roers Development made an unusual and alarming request of the Fargo City Commission: tax incentives for a project the company hasn't finished."

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As a Roosevelt neighborhood resident, I have been watching the massive multi-family building going up not far from my home. At a recent Fargo City Commission meeting, Roers Development made an unusual and alarming request of the Fargo City Commission : tax incentives for a project the company hasn't finished.

As background, in 2019, Roers wanted to build an apartment building in the Roosevelt neighborhood. Our neighborhood was not thrilled with the idea of removing so many single-family homes. We were wary that a giant apartment building would jeopardize our historic neighborhood's character and family-oriented housing options. So, a compromise was reached: Seven townhomes must also be built to serve as a buffer between the single-family homes and the apartments. This was written into a contract, and the City Commission approved the tax incentives based on this contract.

The deadline for this project – including the townhomes – is long past: everything was supposed to be done last December. The monster apartment building is done, but Roers has barely broken ground on the townhomes. Tax incentives are usually disbursed after a project is completed. Owner Jim Roers would know this. Despite missing the deadline, he asked for the money, thinking he could get by with it. That is concerning since he’s a business owner asking for breaks affecting our tax dollars and he’s a state senator.

Also, as the company’s attorney, Shannon Roers Jones should have known about this contract and the company’s requirements to get the tax incentive. What would she have done if she were mayor of Fargo and her father/boss came with this request? At the very minimum, there would be a clear conflict of interest.

With affordable housing a major issue in our community, the Roers family should honor its commitment to the city and to the families of the Roosevelt neighborhood.

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Paddy McLaughlin lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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