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City okays signage changes

West Fargo City Commissioners approved first reading Monday night of a zoning ordinance amendment to the sign ordinance providing for oversized identification or institutional wall signs as a conditional use within the Interstate Corridor Overlay District.

Costco initiated the action with its request asking for additional area for two wall signs as a conditional use that will be located on their place of business off of I-94 and Veterans Boulevard.

Costco intends to install 282-square-foot walls signs on the north and east sides of the 151,000-square-foot building that is set to open in 2012, which are larger than the city zoning ordinance allows for under its sign regulations.

Currently, the city's sign regulations allow for freestanding signs up to 100 square feet for buildings having a setback of less than 100 feet, or up to 200 square feet for buildings with setbacks of 100 feet or more.

The request noted that the buildings will be set back a significant distance and that no freestanding signs are going to be installed. The north wall sign will be approximately 500 feet from the I-94 right-of-way and the east wall sign approximately 800 feet from Veterans Boulevard.

The Planning and Zoning Commission had reviewed and approved the request earlier allowing a maximum of 300 square feet in the area, subject to staff recommendations focusing on the proper setback requirements, large enough building square footage and the absence of freestanding signs.

The commission favored first reading of the request based on the same conditions.

The board also acted on request to approve a new Information Technologies position and funding plan, along with a budget amendment.

City Administrator Jim Brownlee said the plan is to eliminate contract services effective Dec. 31, 2011, with NRG Technology Services, Bismarck, and utilize that money to expand the city's own technology department so the work could be done in-house.

He said the action would save the city money that could be used to hire a Help Desk Support Technician at a salary of $28,000 plus benefits.

Brownlee also said a goal is to connect all the technical fiber aspects so everything is the same for all city departments, including the public works area in the northwest corner of town. The lab will also be moved to the public works area from its First Street location as a part of the plan.

He said completing this move overall will result in minimal money savings at first which will be far outweighed by "a level of service that will be infinitely better."

The commission also approved new Legislative District precinct boundaries, along with polling locations, as proposed by Cass County. Polling sites include: District 13 - Westside Elementary School, West Fargo City Hall, and Veterans Memorial Arena; District 16 - Meadowridge Bible Chapel, Holy Cross Church, and Scheels Arena; and District 22 - Shiloh Evangelical Free Church and the Horace Senior Center.

The city administrator was also given the go ahead to purchase tax forfeited properties from Cass County for $1 a parcel, which will be sold either through an advertisement process or assistance from a realtor. The delinquent specials and taxes will be forgiven on the lots but the purchaser will assume the remaining specials.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place Monday, Jan. 16, 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.