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Fire destroyed home: City grants residential tax break

West Fargo City Commissioners approved a five-year remodeling tax exemption Monday night for a house destroyed by fire in April of last year, belonging to Jack and Janet Kist at 1401 River St.

Following the fire, the Kists built a new home on the old foundation of the house that was initially put in place in 1960, and asked the City for a two-year property tax exemption, currently being granted to West Fargo residents for new home construction.

City Assessor Wanda Wilcox said that even though the new home was built in 2007, it didn't qualify for the two-year exemption because officials decide this based on the date the foundation is put in place - the two-year exemption is good for two years following the date the foundation is poured. She added the reason a new foundation wasn't a part of the project was because it was determined the original one was sound enough to rebuild on.

However, she noted that according to information shared at a recent workshop, the Kist's home is eligible for a remodeling exemption based on the value that the property increased over the pre-fire value.

She said this issue has never been addressed before because nobody has asked for a five-year exemption in the aftermath of a fire.

Pre-fire value of the Kist home was $132,700 and $179,400 after the new construction. The exemption would be on the $46,700 difference, amounting to a $940 a year tax savings for the Kists.

Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the exemption. Commissioner Brenda Warren was absent.

In other action, the Commission:

-following a review of PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) and new business/industry exemptions for company's that have met the employment guidelines as established by law, approved a 100 percent property tax exemption beyond year two for five West Fargo companies that have met the employment projections and criteria - Bobcat Company, Tri-State Auction, Weisgram Properties, LLP, DMI Industries and Integrity Windows;

-okayed second reading on the rezoning from R-1: one and two family dwelling to R-2: limited multiple dwellings for all of Block 1, Lots 1 through 11 of Block 2 and all of Block 3 of Goldenwood 3rd Addition. Developers wanted to complete the rezoning to accommodate larger structures on the property;

-approved second reading on the rezoning, final plat approval as well as a conditional use permit for Sandhills 3rd Addition from agricultural to heavy commercial/light industrial with the conditional use permit for storage. This move provides for more commercial lots. There are presently no services on the property, so the need for an agreement to spell out the inclusion of services was also a part of the motion;

-favored second reading of Ordinance No. 824 relating to work permits for gaming employees. The action removed some of the sections from codes that have not been used;

-granted a conditional use permit for a detached storage building to Rob Hasse at 599 45th Ave. W. in Nelson Acres. The permit was needed because the building will exceed the normal limit allowed at its 4,800 square foot projection. Several oversized buildings have been approved in the past as a CUP in the Nelson Acres subdivisions. Notices had been sent out to adjacent property owners with none of them voicing any opposition;

-approved the low bid of $38,318 received from Nelson Dodge GMC, Fergus Falls, Minn., for three 4x4 pickups. Commissioners decided at their March 3 meeting to rebid the pickups due to a low bid turnout and low trade-in values received;

-awarded the contract for Sewer and Water Improvement District No. 1204 in Butler's 4th Addition, Phase III, to Shermans LLC of West Fargo with a low bid of $742,929.17. There were a total of 11 bids on the project which had an engineer's estimate of $992,000.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, March 31, at 5:30 p.m. at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.