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City extends new home residential exemption

West Fargo City Commissioners voted unanimously Monday night to approve a resolution extending the two-year tax exemption on new home construction into the 2009 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 each year.

The request was made by City Assessor Wanda Wilcox on behalf of the FM Home Builder's Association. Wilcox said that Fargo had passed a resolution last year for homes built in both 2008 and 2009 so they will not be revisiting the issue until next year. The exemption in West Fargo was initiated in 1980 and since that time has proved to work very well, Wilcox said.

City Commissioner Mike Thorstad said he was in favor of the exemption for the 2009 year, but would like some statistics compiled regarding usage of the program when the exemption topic comes up again for 2010.

In other action, the commission:

-approved first reading of Ordinance No. 838 relating to permitting use of vehicle to violate section 13-1016 prohibited, involving dealing with the prosecution of motorists not stopping when school buses are stopped. The ordinance will mirror state law;

-okayed a joint powers agreement providing for the issuance of tax exempt revenue bonds to finance Eventide's latest West Fargo health care facility project and a resolution giving approval to the issuance of health care facilities revenue bonds and authorizing execution of a joint powers agreement relating to such bonds. Eventide, a Minnesota nonprofit corporation, is constructing a 62-bed skilled nursing care facility adjacent to and physically connected to their senior housing facility Sheyenne Crossings at 225 13th Ave. E. Since the business is located in West Fargo, Eventide needed a local political entity to approve the bond issue. West Fargo approved a similar joint powers agreement when Sheyenne Crossings was constructed. The city of Moorhead had already approved the agreement subject to West Fargo's approval. There is no liability on the city of West Fargo's part.

-approved a land use plan amendment from office park to medium and high density residential for Beaton Land West, an approximate 20 acre parcel located along 13th Avenue West, west of the Sheyenne Park Development and southeast of the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. The owner has been marketing the parcel the last three years for office park use and has not received any interest because of poor access. They are now thinking the land would be more conducive to residential development, therefore the need for the amendment. The developer is proposing townhouses and apartments, with high density residential along the north side of the property as a transition use from the fairgrounds. Due to a concern about noise from the interstate and the fairground uses, discussion has taken place with fair officials about buffering and putting the noise issue

front and center when the area is ultimately marketed to potential users. It was also made clear that the commission was only approving the amendment at this time, that the item would be revisited again when actual development plans come forward;

-held two public hearings before closing out community development block grant programs that have been completed by Integrity Windows for a $410,000 grant that was used to help pave 9th Street NE from 12th Avenue North to 19th Avenue North to accommodate development of their new plant; and for Trail King Industries who received $410,000 for equipment purchases in their new 160,000 square foot manufacturing plant located in the West Fargo Industrial Park on the west edge of the community;

-okayed a developers agreement between the city of West Fargo and Charleswood, Inc and a resolution approving the West Fargo Office Development Plan of 2008 and the Tax Increment District included in the plan and the developers agreement with Charleswood Inc. An urban renewal and development district has been established for the area bordering I-94 along East Beaton Drive west of Bobcat to 9th Street East. The land encompasses 40-plus acres and is owned by Charleswood, Inc. A tax increment financing district is being proposed for the area. A larger corporate office headquarters is planned for the parcel directly east of the Bobcat property. The TIF district would allow for infrastructure improvements to the property to accommodate development in the area which would be called the West Fargo Office Park. The developer is looking at only professional office buildings to be constructed bordering I-94 and a full service hotel and service/retail area along 9th Street East.

-okayed a planned unit development amendment for Jim Knutson of Valley Realty, Inc. for a two-story retail and office space on Lot 7, Pioneer Center Development, located on the southwest corner of the development and east of Prairie Parkway. The building would be completed by the fall of 2009.

-approved the sale of a city owned lot to the North Dakota Department of Transportation for additional right-of-way for the Main Avenue reconstruction.

-awarded the contract for Storm Sewer Improvement District No. 4041 for 32nd Avenue Bridge replacement to Riley Brothers Construction Co., Inc., Morris, Minn., for their low bid of $1,653,961.50. The engineers' estimate was $1,560,000.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 15, in the Commission Chamber at West Fargo City Hall. Because of the holidays, the commission voted to not hold their third meeting of the month on Monday, Dec. 29. All meetings are open to the public.