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Published November 08, 2012, 09:42 PM

Fargo lifts the ban on building permits in flood prone areas

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Following the record setting flood of 2009, the city of Fargo placed a ban on building permits in flood prone areas. That ban is lifted, and that has some people up-stream crying foul.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Following the record setting flood of 2009, the city of Fargo placed a ban on building permits in flood prone areas. That ban is lifted, and that has some people up-stream crying foul.

This is a scene the city of Fargo does not want to repeat. The city has bought over 700 homes that are vulnerable to flooding.

Mike Williams/Fargo City Commisoner: "We still have more houses to buy. I'd hate to buy more houses and then let people build to close to the river and have to buy those out after the fact."

But now there is an opening for those look to build along the river.

Recently the city commission unanimously voted to let city engineers begin reviewing building permits, effectively lifting the moratorium on development.

This land just north of Fargo but in the cities jurisdiction and it's owned by Highland Park Properties. They filed a lawsuit over the ban in May because they say this plat was approved in 2006 and they have already put in roads and utilities.

The commission voted to lift the ban after meeting in a closed door session about the lawsuit.

I spoke with a lawyer for Highland Park Development and he said despite the fact that the city is now making a few exceptions to the setback rule there lawsuit against the city continues at this time.

Dan Zink/Oxbow City Councilman: "The issue for us I don't think is whether somebody is building a house 100 ft or 200 ft or 400 ft from the river."

For communities upstream that may be displaced by a Fargo-Moorhead diversion the lifting of the ban is just piece of a larger grievance. The Fargo diversion project is taking about 70 square miles of land out of the natural Flood Plain and backing the water up behind the dam on us.

Commissioner Williams voted to lift the moratorium but voted against any projects that did not get geo-technical reviews.

Williams: "I'd rather fight lawsuits than have to let them build and buyout homes built to close to rivers again."

Even with the diversion, Fargo will need to balance the value of real estate along the river with flood protection.

Williams: "There's more requests coming, to me it's way better for the taxpayers to buy an empty lot than it is to have them build on a lot and have to buy it out later."

While communities upstream push to increase the natural channel flow to save as much of their land as possible. The lawsuit between Highland Park and Fargo is set for trial in June 2013.

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