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Grand Forks City Council members discuss special assessments deferral program

The three-year deferral program of special assessments would apply to single-family houses or townhomes located within a residential zoning district under city code that is new construction and included in a greenfield development.

Grand Forks City Hall
Grand Forks City Hall, 255 N. 4th St. Sam Easter / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Members of City Council on Monday discussed a three-year special assessment deferral program for residential – including single-family and townhome – greenfield development during a Committee of the Whole meeting.

The discussion comes as the council recently received an update on residential development in the 2050 Land Use Plan. During last week’s council meeting, a recommendation was approved to decrease the special assessment interest markup rate from 1% to 0.5% and decrease the miscellaneous charge on projects from 4% to 2%.

Back in the fall of 2016 and spring of 2017, the City Council approved adjustments to bring down the cost of special assessments while encouraging development in the city. At that time, the council adjusted the special assessment time period from 20 years to 25 years in order to decrease annual costs by spreading the amount over an additional five years. The council also decreased special assessment interest markups from 1.5% to 1%.

While the program would be a three-year deferral of special assessments, it would become a five-year deferral period for the developer to reduce any risks to the developer and encourage more development areas for residential greenfield development.

The timeline of the deferral program would make it so eligible projects in 2022 would most likely be carried over to 2024, with special assessments certified in the fall of 2023 being deferred to the fall of 2026 and payable in 2027 or 2028.

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The deferral of special assessments would apply to residential property that is new construction and included in a green field development, meaning the development of agricultural or undeveloped property, property should be single-family houses or townhomes and needs to be located within a residential zoning district under city code.

At present, the city has about 480 lots that are platted for single-family units, which is a three- to four-year housing supply. The 2050 Land Use Plan lists the southwestern portions of the city as the areas with the most available space for residential development.

Council member Bret Weber on Monday discussed the ongoing need for housing in the city and the success from the last special assessment deferral program.

“I think one of the great success stories of that dive into housing was the rapid expansion and development of multi-family housing,” Weber said. “We had maybe a few thousand units of apartments developed within a relatively short period of time.”

Weber said one of the successful factors then was identifying how much housing was needed in the city. Weber asked what the housing needs will be over the next five years. City Planner Ryan Brooks said for multifamily units, the city needs about 300 a year while the need for single-family units has remained steady throughout the years at around 100 lots a year.

Council members will decide whether to approve the program at next Monday’s council meeting.

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In other council news Monday:

  • Council members discussed the two bids received for the reconstruction of Oak Street from 17th Avenue South to 24th Avenue South. The lowest bidder was submitted by Strata Corporation in the amount of $1,628,698, approximately 13.2% under the engineer’s estimate. The project consists of reconstructing the existing asphalt pavement pavement, updating Americans with Disabilities Act curb ramps, updating storm sewer and adding streetlights. The existing asphalt pavement is severely cracked, broken, sunken and heaved, affecting drainage and transportation on the road. A portion of the project will be funded with a city share of 80% cost of reconstructed pavements with the remaining 20% being special assessed to benefitting properties. The city share of the project is $1,302,958, which will be funded from the Street/Infrastructure Fund 4815 “Street Mtce Program,” where a total of $2 million has been budgeted in 2022. Construction is anticipated to take place and be completed this year.
  • The council discussed awarding bids for the installation of sanitary sewer, watermain and storm sewer serving properties along South 50th Street at the TK Industrial Park Resubdivision. The three city projects are being advertised for bids and a bid opening is scheduled on April 28 and will be presented to the council next Monday. The developer is proposing public infrastructure to be installed using private funds and special assessments. All costs for these projects will be special assessed to the benefiting properties while design and construction of paving and street lighting will be privately funded by the developer.
Related Topics: GRAND FORKS CITY COUNCIL
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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