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City votes to self fund 8th Street realignment

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It may be a couple of years out but West Fargo City Commissioners made the decision Monday night that if they move forward to complete a realignment plan for Eighth Street West and County Road 19 it would be a separate one from the State Department of Transportation project and totally funded by the city with the type of realignment plan yet to be determined.

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Options include not realigning Eighth Street at all and having a frontage road put in for businesses between Eighth Street and County Road 19 as part of the Main Avenue project; to realign 8th Street at the same time the Main Avenue project is being done; or realign it at sometime in the future.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation included the plan as part of the final phase three of Main Avenue reconstruction scheduled for 2015, with the Finding of No Significant Impact study (FONSI) showing the realignment as a preferred option. If the city funds the entire cost as a city project they will not have to follow federal rules unless the city wants to use federal dollars on 8th Street in the future. However they would have to follow the federal guidelines for right-of-way acquisition and relocation.

The pros for doing the realignment include the reduction of conflict points on Main Avenue; the possibility of a traffic light being signalized at the intersection, and the businesses located in the area will have the project done and can adequately plan for their future.

Since the project wouldl be funded through an open assessment district, the costs of the project would also increase if there is a delay in completing the work.

Initial costs, that could include buyout of some buildings, were estimated between $1,066,000 and $3.5 million.

There would be a substantial savings to the city to do this as a city project separate from the DOT project with staff's recommendation to follow that route. The commission voted 5-0 in support.

They agreed that the method for realignment will be decided after cost estimates for the project come in and meetings are held with affected business owners on 8th Street West. The consensus was to have all this firmed up for further commission action on the matter in January 2014.

Commissioners also paved the way for usage of three adjacent lot on the west end of Main Avenue, a vacant one that formerly housed the Hi-Ten Motel, as well as the one where Smokey's Steakhouse stands and another presently developed with warehouse storage and shop facilities.

The board voted 5-0 to approve a conditional use permit for Petro Serve USA for a truck fueling and bulk fuel storage facility at 1772, 1812 and 1822 West Main Avenue on the 7.5 acres making up the three lots that would be combined for the use.

The old Smokey's building will be the site of corporate offices for Petro Serve which currently is situated in Moorhead and will relocate to the West Fargo facility. All truck drivers will also be located out of the site with a central dispatch.

In addition, the operation will also include a cardtrol diesel/gas facility, underground bulk tank loading facility, LP gas fuelling station, propane refill station, and LNG gas fueling station.

The truck fueling and bulk fuel facilities are considered a conditionally permitted use in the heavy commercial light industrial zoning district.

In other action, the commission:

-approved liquor license renewals for the city's 27 liquor--related establishments, but only after discussion on how liquor establishments could be monitored to come into compliance with the server training standards. After considerable discussion the commission agreed that monitoring would be completed every 90 days to see how compliant the establishments are. If they are complying it will be business as usual, if not they could be in fine jeopardy, or eventually not have their liquor licenses approved when the yearly renewal time arrives. State law stipulates that all liquor establishments need to be compliant on the serving training sessions which are two-hours long, within 90 days of hiring someone, or they will not receive a license.

-favored a Renaissance Zone request application from Rod Klein for Roddies Storage, LLC, to construct an additional building on property available for lease at 658 West Main Ave. The lot size is 16,000 square feet and the size of the metal building which will be used for light commercial and office space is 4,416 square feet. Total estimated cost of the project is $167,820;

-favored first reading of Ordinance No. 957 relating to Animals, adding a section for restricted non-venomous constricting snakes along with types of snakes included under the category. A permit will be required by pet snake owners at a $150 fee for a maximum of three snakes. The permit will need to be renewed yearly. Failure to obtain a permit will carry a $100 fine and/or ten hours of community service. Approval will also be needed from the police department if snakes are taken somewhere for public display. The ordinance has been in the drafting stage since last year when a pet owner took his snake to a public place, alarming people;

-okayed a planned unit development amendment for a professional office building part of which will house the North Dakota Autism Center at 647 13th Ave. E. Meridian Commercial Construction made the request for the 1.2 acre parcel to develop office space.The Autism center will occupy 4200 square feet while the remaining 2491 square feet will be rental space for future use that could include a daycare;

-following a public hearing approved first reading of rezoning for West Creek 1st Addition from agricultural to one and two family dwellings, multiple dwelling, and public facilities. for a 23.10 acre parcel located along 13th Avenue West, west of the Sheyenne Park Development and Cass County Drain 21 and southeast of the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. J & O Real Estate made the request to allow for twin homes and apartment buildings. The commission voted to conditionally approve the proposed Land Use Amendment to accommodate the development on the basis that the high density use is best suited along I-94 with nine stipulations, among them a petition for annexation is received and an adequate buffer is provided to accommodate dense coniferous tree plantings;

-Following a public hearing approved first reading on a rezoning request by Mike Staber from agricultural to heavy industrial for about 191 acres, located between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and 12th Avenue NW and along both sides of 9th St. NW for the sale and development of heavy industrial uses and to establish clear legal descriptions;

-approved second and final reading of the city Lodging Tax Ordinance No. 956 that gives the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau the authority effective Sept. 1, 2013 to collect and administer the three percent lodging and capital funds tax for the purpose of promoting West Fargo and the metro area;

-okayed first reading of Ordinance No. 961 relating to changes in State Statutes dealing with traffic and crimes that will go into effect July 1 and Aug. 1, following action last session by the N.D. Legislature;

-okayed first reading of Ordinance No. 966 relating to water service and water meters. The application should be accompanied by a fee set by resolution of the city commission striking the $15 fee previously charged, with the meter provided and the location of it approved by the city.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, July 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E. All meetings are open to the public.

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