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City deeds lot to fire department

West Fargo City Commissioners okayed the transfer of land on the corner of First Street and First Avenue from the City of West Fargo to the West Fargo Fire Department during regular meeting action Monday night.

The city currently owns the land that the fire department building is located on at 108 1st St. The transfer was requested by City Administrator Jim Brownlee who said the land is of no value to the city without owning the building. He said the transfer would "clean up ownership issues and remove the city from any liability on that property."

Brownlee noted that the city has an agreement with the fire department that if they cease to exist as a department, all the assets would revert back to the city.

The commission also voted to deny an abatement request from Mark Thelen for Westport Beach #4354 and #4356, two bedroom townhome properties located at 1114 and 1115 Westport Beach Way.

Thelen had filed an application for abatement and settlement of taxes for 2008. The application was not complete, and was denied on those grounds and returned to Cass County in December of 2010. On June 6, 2011 the Cass County Commission referred only abatement 4354 and 4356 back to the West Fargo commission.

Thelen said the valuation of the two bedroom units should be $90,000 based on marketability issues and the fact the units were worth less that they were appraised at compared to similar properties, instead of the city's appraised value of $123,600. He also had an appraisal completed by Dennis Huber of the Appraisal Office who indicated that the valuation of the units would have been $90,000 in February of 2008 based on his analysis.

City Assessor Wanda Wilcox said the 2008 value of $123,600 the city placed on the units was based on the limited information available to the office at that time to determine that value. In 2009 with more information available on the limited market of the units the valuation was reduced to $113,600; and in 2011 to $109,700.

After review the appraisal City Assessor Wanda Wilcox said the city assessment department stands by the 2008 appraised value of $123,600, recommending that Thelen's appeal be denied. "As assessors we can't use hindsight. We need to go by what we have at the time. We have been making adjustments for market conditions, just not to his level." She also noted that the units that were used in the Appraisal Offices appraisal were not comparable two bedroom properties to the units being appealed by Thelen.

The board voted unanimously to deny the appeal request.

In other action, the commission:

-approved an encroachment agreement with Mike Pagan at 807 11th Ave. W. allowing him to upgrade and maintain a fence that his existed on the property he's own for nine years and prior to that for another ten-plus years. Pagan had his lot surveyed this last spring for property boundaries, assuming the fenced was on the eastern boundary of his property. Instead it was discovered it was located on a city easement. The board approved the agreement with the stipulation that if the area is ever needed to be accessed, the fence will have to be temporarily taken down or removed;

-approved second and final reading and final plat approval to rezoning of Westport Beach 7th Addition from limited multiple dwellings to mixed one and two-family dwellings. Westport Investments wants to subdivide and rezone the 4.88 acre parcel, to develop 26 single family and/or twin homes, for the final phase of Westport Beach. The property is located south of 40th Avenue and west of 9th Street East;

-okayed second and final reading and gave final plat approval to rezoning of Maple Ridge at the Preserve 2nd Addition from agricultural to single family dwellings. Section 20 Investments LLC wants to plat and zone the 22 acre parcel, located east of the Sheyenne River on the north side of 32nd Avenue East and west of 4th Street East, for single family development;

-approved upon condition a Conditional Use Permit to allow for construction of an oversized accessory building located at 709 Martin Drive, within the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction. The property is zoned rural estate district and requires a conditional use permit to construct a building larger than 1000 square feet. The applicant, Mike Sells, wants to add an 896 square foot addition to a detached garage, built prior to the city having jurisdiction;

-favored a request for a Conditional Use Permit for development signage for the South Pond at the Preserve area, located east of the Sheyenne River on the north side of 32nd Avenue East and west of Veteran's Boulevard upon the condition a plan is established for care and maintenance of the signage and landscaping. The developer Dan Bueide wants to place eight entrance signs to the South Pond at the Preserve development at Veterans Boulevard and 23rd Avenue East, Veterans Boulevard and 26th Avenue East, Veterans Boulevard and 31st Avenue East, and 32nd Avenue and 4th Street East, with one on each side of the intersection. The size of signage is greater than the 16 square feet allowed under the regular provisions of the sign regulations; however, is allowed as a condition use. The signs will measure 22.4 square feet;

-appointed Commissioner Mike Thorstad to serve another term on the West Fargo Library board as the city liason.

Due to the Fourth of July holiday falling on Monday, the next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Thursday, July 7, at 5:30 p.m., in the Commission Chambers at West Fargo City Hall, 800 4th Ave. E. All meetings are open to the public.