WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 06, 2011, 06:30 PM

Fargo considering city-wide moratorium on building near rivers

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A moratorium against building close to the river could soon be a Fargo city-wide ordinance.

A moratorium against building close to the river could soon be a Fargo city-wide ordinance. After 3 of the 5 city commission members voted to allow a South Fargo family to put an addition on their home closer to the Sheyenne River, controversy ensued.

A current moratorium banning structures being built with 450 feet of rivers is just why City Commissioners Mike Williams and Dave Peipkorn question the recent move by Brad Wimmer, Tim Mahoney and Mayor Dennis Walaker, but they can make exceptions on a case by case basis.

Mike Williams – Fargo City Commissioner: "The soils are unstable along the Wild Rice, The Red and the Sheyenne rivers. There's no difference in the soil. So they're all experience slumping."

Both Williams and Peipkorn plan to bring the morotorium to a commission vote to become ordinance at the next city meeting. That would mean no exceptions. Here's how its now coming to a vote.

It was Monday night, Tim Leclair asked the city commission to add on to his home, here on the Sheyenne, saying he's never sandbagged or needed clay dikes in past floods, adding the majority of construction is within the setback boundaries.

Tim Mahoney – Fargo City Commission: "So you have to look at some of those factors. When you do that, you can talk about the slumping giving way but if the water had never came out of the banks of the Sheyenne and they've never had that in and out egress that you get in a lot of different areas."

Mahoney says neither he, Wimmer nor mayor Walaker knew the Leclair's before approving the build.

Tim Mahoney: "We often, times make different decisions depending on what we find in that area and its not the same all over."

Williams says it sends the wrong message to the public after the city has spent millions of dollars on home buyouts even denying builders and one family a spot on the river then to let the another family add on..

Mike Williams: "Things have changed over the last 10 years. And we need to learn and need to adapt, and fill in.

Commissioners have scheduled a public information meeting on October 13th on the upcoming set back city ordinance proposal. We tried contact the Leclair family. Our messages were not returned.