City says 'no' to property purchase
West Fargo City Commissioners made it clear Monday night they will not be purchasing the Riverside Apartment complex area at 511 W. Main Ave.
The item was placed on the agenda by Commissioner Lou Bennett, who after studying the idea, told commissioners he thought purchasing the five rundown buildings "would take an eyesore away" from the west side of the community as well as remove safety concerns and expenses for the West Fargo Police Department officers who through the past five years have averaged about 25 calls a year, involving domestic disputes, assaults, narcotics and alcohol complaints. He said approximately $35 per hour is being expended for police officers to respond there.
The city was first approached a couple of years ago by West Fargo businessman Tom Kenville, who owns the property, to purchase the complex as part of a beautification project. The Commission said 'no' at that time, citing no need for the property.
After researching police department activity and cost factors relating to calls to the apartments, Bennett resurrected the purchase proposal idea, stating cost would be $160,000, with an additional $40,000 expense for demolition. City Administrator Jim Brownlee said there was nothing in the budget for the purchase, and that monies to do so would have to come from the city's reserve fund. He also noted that about the only thing the area could be used for would be green space.
Mayor Rich Mattern questioned why the property owner wasn't doing something to upgrade the property himself?
Commissioner Mark Simmons asked to what point of ill repair the apartments had to get to before the city could force a "spruce up" of the buildings and grounds area, suggesting that someone look into seeing if the property could be fixed up, and painted. He also added that he felt there was a point to "drawing the line," adding he felt the city shouldn't buy out, but instead make the owner clean the property up.
City Attorney Brian Neugebauer said the city has a property maintenance code that could be enforced.
Commissioner Mike Thorstad asked "where do we start and stop" with such requests, citing the need for funding for more important areas, like street and sanitation needs. "We do not want to buy something we are not going to use. We're talking $200,000. We have other things that need repair. We need to support our city services."
Police Chief Arland Rasmussen described the units as a "frequent flier" residence in terms of the number of times his department has had to respond. "We are pretty familiar with 511 West Main." He noted the units are probably not yet bad enough to qualify as code violations, but getting very close. Adding to the disrepair is a fire that occurred at the site that gutted two of the units but left the shells standing. Rasmussen added that it would be nice not to have to be responding to as many calls at the address or even having some of the individuals residing in the community.
He said there is a landlord program in place where they notify the owner when they are called to the site. "We advise them and they make their own determination."
Bennett made the motion for the city to purchase the property, but the motion died for a lack of a second.
The commission directed Brownlee to meet with staff to decide how to address and enforce clean up this and other property areas in the community that are in need of attention, either because they are abandoned, condemned or simply unkempt to an unacceptable condition because of lack of maintenance.
The commission also heard testimony from several business owners along East Main Avenue, who will see changes in front of their businesses with access when Main Avenue reconstruction resumes next summer.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation calls for the westbound left-turn lane access in front of Fargo Trailer Center at 1909 E. Main Ave.
Some of the business owners wanted the plan to proceed as is with the westbound lane remaining as proposed in front of Fargo Trailer Center, while Lars Dyrdahl wanted the plans to change with access to remain where the driveway has been for 30 years in front of his business Lars Body Shop at 2009 Main Ave. E.
After considerable discussion, the board voted to see if the DOT would consider the two left-turn lane accesses and if that is not possible, to keep the westbound left-turn lane in front of Lars Body Shop.
The commission also voted unanimously to follow through on a nuisance complaint involving dust and odor problems received from EW Wylie and FM Transport regarding the Glass Advantage, a glass recycling business located at 230 15th St. NW.
Officials from FM Tranport, appeared at the meeting with pictures and samples of the residue, saying employees had the dust on their vehicles after sitting a short time, also voicing health and safety concerns about inhaling the residue noting that individuals had gone home sick.
Grant Larson from Fargo Cass Public Health would be conducting, in conjunction with the North Daktoa Deparmtn of Health, testing to determine the impact of the substance. The city is handling the testing because the nature of the violation doesn't fall under state jurisdiction. A formal letter will be issued to Glass Advantage officials with a plan of action requested in order to satisfy the complaint.
In other action, the commission:
-following a public hearing, approved first reading subject to 11 conditions for the rezoning of Shadow Creek 2nd Addition from agricultural to single family dwellings. The 9.64 acre parcel located between Second Street East and the Sheyenne River and south of 32nd Avenue East, will provide for the development of 15 residential lots;
-following a public hearing, approved first reading subject to nine conditions for the rezoning of Prairie Heights 1st Addition from agricultural to one and two family and limited multiple dwellings. The 31.34 acre parcel, located east of the Sheyenne River on the south side of 32nd Avenue East and west of Fourth Street East, will be developed with a church, single family home and medium density residential, including townhouses, condominiums or smaller apartment buildings. The church facility is currently under construction, the remaining projects will follow.
-following a public hearing, approved first reading for the rezoning of Lake Crest 1st Addition from public facilities to planned unit development subject to six conditions. The 32,800 square foot parcel, located west of Sheyenne Street and north of 32nd Avenue West, was platted in 2004 as part of Eagle Run 12th Addition. The intent of the request is to subdivide the lot being purchased from the city to develop a clubhouse/health club and playground for the apartment buildings to the north;
-favored a Renaissance Zone application request from NIP Partners, LLP, owners and managers of Neil's Industrial Paint at 701 W. Main Ave. They have purchased the building this year and are in the process of renovating the existing structure with a new roof, offices, bathrooms and electrical. They will also be constructing a new freestanding sandblasting building at the south end of the property. The Economic Development Advisory Committee gave their approval for the project on Aug. 17. Total estimated investment for the project is $565,000. The estimated property tax benefit for the five-year period would be $7,000; and the estimated tax benefit $6,000. Expected project completion date is Oct. 31, 2011.
-approved the one time payment for West Fargo's share of construction of the new Emergency Food Pantry from the general fund reserve.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 5:30 p.m., instead of Monday, Sept. 5, because of the Labor Day holiday. The meetings are held in the commission chambers at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E., and are open to the public.