Residents voice concern about access along 13 1/2 Avenue
Residents living along 13 1/2 Avenue, adjacent to a Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch thrift store presently under construction directly north of them on the corner of Sixth Street East and 13th Avenue East, appeared before the West Fargo City Commission Monday night to address access plans, asking that entrances and exits be removed along 13 ½ Avenue East.
The commission approved the plans for the almost 15,000 square foot facility in January, including the traffic entrance being placed off of 13 ½ Avenue, which runs in front of the one-block twinhome development.
Residents Florentina Bradforde and Rachel Westlin said allowing the access on the avenue running through their residential neighborhood will endanger the people, children and pets.
The street is only 21 feet wide with no parking allowed on either side; most other residential neighborhoods have 38 foot wide streets. The neighbors contend that right now there isn't enough room for traffic to pass, especially in the wintertime, when snow causes additional problems.
"We think it's not appropriate," Bradforde stated. "It is a dangerous street. We can hardly get out now with all the construction. It is not safe for kids, animals or adults."
Westlin said she had started a petition opposing the accesses, also pointing out the problem with semi-trucks making deliveries parked down the same street on a regular basis, delivering to the liquor establishment located in the strip mall.
Marlyn McDonald who also lives on the street, said he lives in the first unit. "I was told this would be a quiet street with no houses on this side and that's why the street is 21 feet wide. Now you're asking us to absorb traffic from Dakota Boys Ranch."
He also pointed out the semis stating, "Two cars on the corner by the strip mall can't make it. There are beer trucks parked there all the time."
Another resident, Jon Blixt, told the commission it made common sense to have the access from 13th Avenue East. "Why have the opening to 13 ½ a residential street where everybody is active and kids are playing there. If it is so narrow there is not parking, how can the street be open to commercial traffic? Having no parking on the street is tough enough, to have it open to commercial would devalue property and we should avoid that."
City Commissioner Mark Simmons asked why there wasn't more input or concern when discussions were in the works for this Planned Unit Development area that eventually saw the 21 feet street width approved with no parking in order for the development to move forward.
Blixt responded by saying they didn't expect commercial issues, so therefore didn't come forward.
When asked if a curb cut could be made from 13th Avenue, Chris Brungardt, public works street administrator, said there "just isn't enough room" and in his opinion in would be dangerous to put an access on 13th Avenue because of the busy flow and volume of traffic.
The suggestion was made for access from 6th Street East, as well as into the area that fronts the Three Lyons Pub off of 13th Avenue that would lead to the adjoining commercial lots, with the consensus that it might be best to arrive at a solution utilizing this front area.
Diane Rust, retail director for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, said work was already well underway on the almost 15,000 square foot structure. "We certainly understand their side of things and would be willing to look at different alternatives" adding that obviously any change would be a huge expense. She added that drop-off volumes during a busy month could be 60-70 per day.
Commissioners told her that exploring any new options would not effect the construction as it moved forward.
Mayor Rich Mattern suggested that Brungardt explore different possible options regarding the access points, with any action tabled until he reports back in two weeks. "Maybe there is a solution we are not seeing," Mattern said.
After a half hour discussion, the residents were amiable to this action.
It was also agreed that looking at the issue with the semis parked on the roadway would be a law enforcement issue, with the police chief saying he would look into it.
In other action, the commission:
-following a public hearing, tabled action on first reading of a proposed ordinance amendment to Chapter 4 (planning and zoning) and Chapter 11 (animals), that if approved would provide for up to four chickens with enclosures on residential properties in the city. The request was made by Justin and Ashley Morken, who reside at 1228 Goldenwood Drive, and spoke about the benefits of urban agriculture, including backyard chickens, including eggs and fertilizer. "This is not a new idea, it is all about sustainable living and having control of where your food comes from," Justin stated.
Hidden Court resident David Wyum opposed the request stating he didn't like the concept of farm animals in an urban environment in an area that is an incorporated city, mentioning potential health concerns, and the fact that most covenants ban poultry and farm animals. "I don't think it's good policy allowing farm animals into an urban environment."
City Commissioner Mark Simmons made a motion to deny the request, stating the use would not be compatible with residential use in the neighborhood. The motion died for a lack of a second.
Commissioner Mike Thorstad said if the request was going to be approved he suggested it follow the proposed Minneapolis parameters which requires 80 percent written approval of occupants within 100 feet of the applicant's residence, as well as a permit fee, along with other criteria. Upon City Attorney Brian Neugebauer's urging, the board decided to table the matter until an actual ordinance draft could be compiled and presented at the meeting in two weeks.
-tabled any action on proposed liquor ordinance amendments, until they can be reviewed by local liquor establishment representatives. Neugebauer said most of the changes were minor 'tweaks' incorporated to bring the ordinance in line with state statute. Simmons said he would like liquor representatives to have the opportunity to review the changes before they are adopted, making the motion to table the item until that could be accomplished.
-tabled the awarding of the contract for Sewer and Water Improvement District No. 1218 for Eaglewood 1st Addition for two weeks, until additional meetings with contractors could be completed;
-agreed to cancel the Monday, May 31, Memorial Day meeting, and move the first meeting in July to Wednesday, July 7, since Monday, July 5, will be observed by city staff for the fourth of July holiday.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, May 17, in the commission chambers at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.