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Board tables zoning request for Goldenwood

Residents in the Goldenwood Addition, north of 12th Avenue Northwest and West of Cass County 17, are not happy with the way the development is taking shape, saying they were sold a concept on how the area would be developed and are actually receiving something quite different.

Several residents of the area were present at the West Fargo City Commission meeting Monday night to voice concern over a rezoning request from developers Nick Bergquist and Norm Diede that would allow them to build more twin homes in the heart of the development, in close proximity to their single family homes. They said they believed the lots around their property would be filled with single family dwelling, with the twin homes planned around the perimeter of the development. They noted that the original map still visible at the site is no longer indicative of what is happening, with Bergquist agreeing and saying he would take the sign down. If approved, the revised plat would provide for two single family homes, 12 units of twin homes in six structures west of 4th Street West, and 16 units in 8 structures along Cass 17.

The West Fargo Planning and Zoning Board had approved the rezoning request at their Aug. 28 meeting, subject to nine conditions being met that included reaching an agreement on the location of future parks and submission of an area plan showing the location of the future park facilities, and a revised park dedication agreement; necessary easements on the final plat; as well as revising the final plat to provide that 15th Avenue Northwest meets the 660-foot spacing standard from the access to the south.

West Fargo City Commissioners had already discussed this issue with residents of the area at a Sept. 18 Commission meeting at which the developers were not present.

City Planner Larry Weil said it is not unusual for development plans to change. He said the proposed plans for the Goldenwood request are consistent with the city's land use plans and ordinances.

Dave Forester, the first resident of the area, expressed concern about the number of twin homes. "I thought there would be more single family homes." He also said he was told there would be two lakes, instead of the one being proposed.

Another resident Terry Maul agreed, saying when they looked at the original plans there weren't a lot of twin homes and through streets. "We were sold one thing and now we are seeing all these twin homes. We were told they were going to be single family houses. They are trying to shove this down our throats and we're just going to have to live with this. I'd like to see the changes on more than one city block. I would like to see it for the whole area."

West Fargo Park District Executive Director Barb Erbstoesser and Park Board member Ken Zetocha were also in attendance to talk about the park dedication. Erbstoesser said the Park District has been working diligently to get this resolved and said she felt things were going in the right direction toward the approximately 9 1/2 acres they would like to secure. She said the Park District wants to maximize on the acreage for the dedication because this park will be key to the City and the area for families locating there.

Zetocha agreed, saying with 500-plus families the proposed 6.8 acres would not be enough.

Residents also addressed neighborhood concerns about workmanship on their residences. Rory Jorgensen said he has lived in his house since March and still doesn't have a certificate of occupancy, no inside access to his attic, and no cabinets.

Bergquest said the cabinets haven't arrived yet and as soon as they do they would be installed.

City Attorney Brian Neugebauer said that the personal concerns were irrelevant to the zoning issue being discussed and that the Commission didn't have the authority to deny the request based on building complaints.

City Commissioner Mark Simmons said that Commissioners are elected officials and should still listen to these types of concerns, adding that the residents deserve some type of resolution. He said Bergquist had made no attempt to call him to discuss the issue. He asked Neugebauer on what grounds the Commission could deny the request.

Neugebauer responded with a violation of the City's zoning regulations.

Simmons made the motion to table first reading of the rezoning based on the lack of an agreement on the Park land dedication, adding that he hoped doing so would send a message to developers to work toward resolving some of the issues.

Commissioners voted unanimously to support tabling the motion until their Oct. 16 meeting so developers could address areas needing to be cleared up, i.e. park dedication size, access spacing, and other criteria initially dictated in agreement terms but not yet adhered to.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16 in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.