WEST FARGO -- The West Fargo Park District will have to return to the city's planning and zoning commission to move forward with selling what is known as Beaton Farm.

The park board wants to sell the former farmstead near Beaton Drive and Sheyenne Street as well as 1.22 acre of green space next to it. But, in order to sell it, the park district must get it rezoned from public to private.

A rezoning request was declined by the West Fargo Planning and Zoning Commission in March. Planning Director Tim Solberg said the park district requested the rezoning process under the planned unit development process, which is a two step process that begins with a rezoning and then requires any development plans be brought forward to the commission and a public hearing is held. Solberg said the planning commission denied the park district’s application because it did not have enough information about what could be built if the land is sold.

West Fargo Parks Executive Director Barb Erbstoesser said the park board voted May 8 to move forward with trying to sell the land but required the land only be sold for low density residential development.

“We haven’t come up with a (development) plan because we don’t want to pigeon hole ourselves into saying it will be this and it is something else,” Erbstoesser said. “And we are not in the business of development.”

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Erbstoesser said the park board was under the impression that it must appeal the planning and zoning decision to the City Commission. However, city commissioners said Monday, May 20, that the appeal should be returned to planning and zoning as the city can not regulate how the park district uses its land.

“We don’t have an authority of whether or not they can sell this,” Mayor Bernie Dardis said.

The City Commission can only regulate development of the area.

“I certainly would never vote for any commercial there, nor would I vote for apartment buildings,” Commissioner Mike Thorstad said.

The former farmstead sits on 3.11 acres that was donated to the district in 2002 from a developer who built homes in the area. West Fargo city ordinances require large developers to donate 10 percent of residential property to the park district.

The adjacent 2 acres of Lot 63 was bought at the same time by the park district and zoned for public use. The park board would like to sell the farmstead and about 1.22 acres of green space, or open land, just west of the former farmstead. However, it will retain at least a 60 foot easement around the nearby bike path.

Erbstoesser said the park district used the property for storage until construction on Sheyenne Street limited access to the area.

“Last year we lost our access due to redevelopment of that property,” Erbstoesser said. “Even when we did have access, it was very hard to get in and out of there.”

The property was recently appraised for $4 to $6 per square foot. If sold for $6 per square foot, it would fetch about $813,000.

Solberg said if the planning and zoning commission approves changing the zoning of the land from public to private so that it can be sold, the public will still have an opportunity to voice concerns about development.

“Anybody who would purchase it in the future would bring it back with detailed plans and we would have another public hearing,” Solberg said.

The West Fargo Planning and Zoning Commission meets on the second Tuesday of each month.