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Comprehensive plan receives first reading

West Fargo City Commissioners approved first reading Monday night of an updated West Fargo Comprehensive Plan which will serve to guide the physical and development aspects of the community, including municipal growth and other related municipal infrastructure improvements. The plan also identifies strategic community issues, providing residents, businesses, landowners and elected officials a mechanism for addressing these issues.

The Comprehensive Plan was last revised in 2000 and was reevaluated now because of all the growth the City has seen in recent years. Since 2000, numerous amendments have been approved to the Land Use Plan map of the comprehensive plan with the majority of them for development south of Interstate 94, prompting adoption of a new Land Use Plan map in 2005.

In the time since the last revision, West Fargo has experienced a 68 percent increase in population, now topping 24,000, and through annexation, has effectively doubled its land size.

Work on updating the Comprehensive Plan was formally initiated the end of 2006 and completed by the City of West Fargo staff, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Council of Governments, after year long emphasis and public promotion in a number of areas, including establishment of a steering committee and public input opportunities provided through a Web page presence, community events, input meetings, an online community survey, focus group meetings and a community open house.

Wade Kline, MetroCOG Community Planner, was present at the meeting to provide Commissioners an overview of the completed plan.

Second reading will be required at a future Commission meeting before the plan is officially adopted.

Commissioners also voted unanimously on a request from the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead to extend the two-year tax exemption on new home construction into the 2008 building year.

The exemption applies to the first $75,000 of new single family, twin home and townhouse construction, amounting to an approximate $1,500 tax savings a year.

"It's a very good incentive and a lot of people say that is the reason they were able to buy a new home," City Assessor Wanda Wilcox stated.

The Commission also agreed to pay the local share of funding for a new senior citizen van amounting to $3,347, with the remainder of the $16,000 van being funded through City of Fargo resources.

Brian Arett, executive director of the Fargo Senior Commission, who provides van service to West Fargo seniors, said the Senior Commission is presently operating five vans in Fargo and one in West Fargo and can't keep up with the demand. "We just can't keep up in West Fargo and we've had to turn some seniors down for rides." Approximately 600 rides a month are being provided for senior residents in West Fargo, with the increase in ridership being triggered by the continued residential growth in the community.

In other action, the Commission:

-favored a Renaissance Zone application for Dan Passolt of Commercial Spaces, Inc. who is purchasing an empty lot at 756 Center St. from Dean Cross. The plan is to build a 12,000 square foot structure that would have a two-story office space bordering Center Street and shop and office space to the east. The building will be mostly steel, with the east side facing the street having upgraded materials. The parking lot will be paved and the outside storage, fenced and lathed;

-approved the transfer of the retail liquor and beer license for Littlefield's LLC, 1380 9th St. E. in the Pioneer Center, to applicant Curtis Biller;

-okayed first reading on a rezoning request by Del Arneson from Planned Unit Development to Heavy Commercial/Light Industrial for a 22,000 square foot parcel in Knutson's 2nd Addition, located along the west Main Avenue frontage road, west of 21st St. N.W. The applicant is purchasing the parcel and adding it to a larger lot that is in the process of being replatted;

-gave final plat approval to a replat of Eagle Run Plaza 2nd Addition to provide for the sale of the property for a public facility. The developer will be selling the north lot of the subdivision to the City for a satellite fire station that will also house a police department. The property is located west of Sheyenne Street and north of 32nd Avenue West. The fire department is looking at beginning the project in two years.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 17, in the Commission Chamber at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.