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Grand Forks opposed to House bills on nonconforming structures and special assessments in the Senate

The North Dakota State Capitol. Forum News Service file photo

Grand Forks will oppose bills in the North Dakota Senate next week, regarding the reconstruction of nonconforming structures and special assessments.

The Senate Political Subdivision Committee will review House Bill 1488, which would limit a city’s ability to specially assess local projects, on Thursday. City Finance Director Maureen Storstad told the Grand Forks Legislative Committee on Friday the proposal would create an inequity in how the city collects special assessments, likely creating a situation where one neighbor will pay more than another to receive the same benefit.

House Bill 1165 from Rep. Steve Vetter, R-Grand Forks, would let eligible property-owners of nonconforming structures rebuild their properties to the same dimensions and standards they were before sustaining significant damage. Members of the legislative committee said they’re opposed to Vetter’s bill due to difficulties it would raise for the city and its ability to implement local planning and zoning laws.

The bill has several other local Republican co-sponsors, including Rep. Emily O’Brien of District 42, Rep. Mark Sanford of District 17 and Sen. Scott Meyer of District 18.

Reviewing this week

Under Senate Bill 2304, cities and counties would have the authority to determine their own fee amounts for driving faster than the local speed limit. The House Political Subdivisions Committee voted to give the bill from Sen. Erin Oban, D-Bismarck, a Do Pass recommendation after amending the bill to restrict the level to which local governments can increase their speeding fines.

“I think it’s a realistic compromise, it’s a step in the right direction,” said Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson, who said he supports the bill “not from a fiscal standpoint, but from a deterrent standpoint” to keep people from violating local speed limits.