Friday, February 10, 2006

A modest (and important) proposal

The city of Grand Forks has recently been looking at extending its "extraterritorial area" from two miles beyond city limits to four miles. This area serves as somewhat of a "buffer zone" between the city and country. The city is able to more closely control development in the extraterritorial area.

Such areas are very important in managing the growth and aesthetics of a city like Grand Forks. Without this "buffer zone", the city would have no control over what goes on with developments just outside of the city limits. If Grand Forks didn't have such an area, someone could come in and build an eyesore like a smoke-spewing factory just south of town as long as the county went along with the development.

The proposal to extend this buffer zone two more miles seems only prudent and sensible to me. Any current developments in the newly designated extraterritorial area would be grandfathered in. In other words, nothing would change for those who live on the land. The only thing that would change is that the city would be able to have control over what gets built in the fields immediately surrounding Grand Forks so we don't someday end up with industrial uses right next to residential developments or ugly subdivisions on main businesses thoroughfares.

The Grand Forks County Commission is none to pleased with the proposal to extend the buffer area. I think it is time for Grand Forks County to wake up and realize that the city of Grand Forks is, without a doubt, the most economically important entity located in the county. If the city wants to control its destiny, the county should go along with it. The city's destiny is the county's destiny.

Update - 2/22/06
The city council gave preliminary approval last night for extending the extraterritorial boundaries from two miles to four miles. The only dissenting votes were Bob Brooks and Gerald Hamerlik. Another interesting development came to light at the meeting: the county is planning to allow construction of a 38-home development right next to Grand Forks International Airport...under the path of the new runway which will be constructed in the near future. In the words of council president Hal Gershman: "There will be the constant noise of 100 propeller-driven aircraft a day." Just another example of why the county shouldn't have the last say about how the area right around the city gets developed...


ben said...

I definently agree with you, Grand Forks Guy. The city must have control over things like lot sizes, looks, and type of development directly surrounding the city. The county just has to deal with the fact that Grand Forks is developing quickly, especially to the south.
I wonder if the city could throw the county a bone, though and just take the four miles to the south and west, where the city seems to be developing quickly? That might soothe some of the ire the city seems to have brought up by proposing the extended lines. Overall, though, the city must gain control of the developments, especially as the demand for that land grows.

Anonymous said...

So the city can run over, push around, anyone that gets in their way???

Just like they are doing to the Manvel area??

I would think the city would have obtained their required land use permit
before they spent all that money on the land itself.

Guess that's another thread . . . . .

Not that I think the Co Commision is anything other than a bunch of Baffoons,
but they don't seem to trample on people like the city does.

GrandForksGuy said...

Anonymous, the city doesn't want to "push around anybody that gets in their way". NOTHING will change for those currently living in the expanded buffer area. The only thing that will change is that the city will have more say about whom or what comes into the area immediately surrounding the city. If the County Commission is such an incompetent bunch of "buffoons", don't you think it might be a good idea if they didn't have the ultimate and final say about what gets built right next to one of the state's largest and most important cities?

The fact of the matter is that Grand Forks is growing. It will someday stretch out further into the current buffer area. When that time comes, I don't think that the city should have to deal with trying to work around ugly and detrimental subdivisions that the County Commission (AKA "bunch of buffoons") has rubber stamped into existence.

UND Student said...

I can definitely understand peope outside of Grand Forks being concerned about Grand Forks controlling their growth, and yet not being part of Grand Forks. However, I think it is best for the "metro" as a whole if Grand Forks can control the growth. Personally, I would like to see farmland stay farmland. I hate to make another "when I came here from Seattle" comment, but, here goes! The soil here is incredible. Soil in my city is a dusty brown... there's little in it. You CAN grow stuff, but the Red River Valley has some AMAZING dirt! That's why we have cities here--a river for trade, and productive farmland=high population.

However, I don't want Grand Forks to expand and pave over this great land. I hope that Grand Forks will look to other cities with metros of 100,000-500,000 people, and see that it's best to encourage growth in the city and limit it the farther you get from downtown. If you want a GREAT example of a disgusting mess of a city, check out Phoenix, AZ. They paved over the gorgeous desert, and are still doing it. Even though this city has 3.7 milion in the metro, it has a pathetic downtown that is really only used for office space.

Anyhow, my vision for the city is for taller apartment buildings for all the renters and condo-owners, and then all the homes will remain for families. I feel that if pretend the city is an island and you cannot build much beyond it, then lots become more expensive and it makes more sense to build tall buildings. However, even though a single-family house is a luxury and a waste of space, environment etc, I still feel for our culture it is important (hey, I liked playing in the mud in my yard as a kid!) for families to be able to afford a house, have a dog, etc. Sooo, I envision a built up downtown, more developed that other cities of similar size, and then a ring around downtown of more apartmets/condos that are slightly shorter, less expensive, and perhaps some senior housing there, and then beyond that would be the neighborhoods of Grand Forks filled with families.

I just hope this overnight construction of crap in the south end of town is slowed. The one comfort I keep is that almost all of these buildings are poorly constructed, which means no one will want to keep them in the long run, and they'll be easy to tear down later on in the city's life...

JGS said...

I kind of agree with you UND student. But our city can't and probably will never grow north for a long time to come, just because how crappy it is up there. No one seems to want to build west. So our last option is south.

Although south of Grand Forks has some of the BEST soil in the valley, can't really do much about it because our city is growing at a rapid pace. I think alot of people who move to Grand Forks would rather buy a home and have a yard for their kids etc. Because I would if I was moving from out of town, wouldn't want to move into apartments, because I mainly see students moving into them.

It is a smart move for Grand Forks to extend the lines, like already mentioned, to control the growth and development in the furute. By 2025 the city will be around 65,000 I think they predicted, but who knows, that number could be increased dramatically to let's say 70,000. So it's smart to extend that line just incase this does happen and they'll have control of what goes on.

And anonymous, where do you suggest the city build their new land fill? Can't be south because our city is growing that way, can't be west either because our city may eventually develop that way and it seems resonable to do it north of Grand Forks. And if I remember correctly, the land fill is EAST of Manvel, I don't really recall wind going from east to west very often. So that smell woudn't really effect Manvel very often. East Grand Forks has the beat plant, that doesn't smell very to good, but that happens what? once a month? I don't complain about it. SO I think Manvel can live with it. Whoopty doo!~

Anonymous said...

"And anonymous, where do you suggest the city build their new land fill? Can't be south because our city is growing that way, can't be west either because our city may eventually develop that way and it seems resonable to do it north of Grand Forks. And if I remember correctly, the land fill is EAST of Manvel, I don't really recall wind going from east to west very often. So that smell woudn't really effect Manvel very often. East Grand Forks has the beat plant, that doesn't smell very to good, but that happens what? once a month? I don't complain about it. SO I think Manvel can live with it. Whoopty doo!~

I don't recall the smell being an issue, except maybe for the people already living fairly close to the proposed site. I believe the safety of ground water and overland flooding is the main issue, but since most water in the area mainly flows north, why should Grand Forks care??

There are other areas away from Grand Forks that probably haven't been looked at since they found land at a price they wanted and then fit everything else to the land they purchased. Has to be that way because they would have obtained the land-use permit first and bought the land later.

I really wonder what or where the city looked for their landfill as there are areas away from Grand Forks with very little population to bother. Take a look at the area west of the junction of Hwy 81 and Grand Forks Coounty road 1, north of Manvel. But that means the city's trucks would have to drive a few miles farther.

If you ever leave the city, stop and visit with some of the people affected by the newest flood works constructed outside the city limits. Ask them how the city approached them and if they had an input at all. Ask them how neighborly the city is in regard to relationships with those they "buffer zone" along with. Go to Manvel and talk to some of the people that have spent most of their life watching the floods over the years tell you about the overland flooding the city says just won't matter.

Maybe even take a little drive around the present landfill and pick a spot to build a house. There maybe even a quaint little spot to the east of the land fill where the wind seldom blows.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't GF annexed the businesses along 81, just north of GF??

I think all of the businesses north of 27th Ave north are in the county.

Anonymous said...

"Under existing county jurisdiction, he and his brother could divide the land into several 2.5-acre lots, build houses on each and sell them. Given the high demand for housing, Dubuque figured his land could fetch a good price if he sold it. But that wouldn't be the case under the city's plan, which would change the zoning to allow only one house per 40 acres."

This is nothing more than protection for the 3 people that own the land surrounding Grand Forks. They don't want anyone to start a development that they can't get their fingers into. It's a rich man's sport that the city council is playing. Us less-than-rich folks will just get swallowed up by those that never leave town.

I stand by my words: " So the city can run over, push around, anyone that gets in their way???"

GrandForksGuy said...

Rural residents already get rural water service, septic tanks and township-maintained roads.

Dan Dubuque, who owns land in Brenna Township, said those things make living in the country about as expensive as living in town. But people still like it, he said, because the county's rules aren't as restrictive as the city's. "They want a piece of land of their own and not be as bothered."

I used to live in the country not too far from Grand Forks for many years. In my experience, a percentage of the people who move to the country (I'm not talking about the farm families who have lived on the land for years) want to live in a rural setting instead of a city/town setting because they want to either: park a dozen rusty old cars in their yards, gather as much scrap lumber and junk as they possibly can and store it in their shelterbelts, have twenty dogs that roam the countryside and terrorize children down the road, or turn their yard into one big muddy snowmobile/ATV/motorcycle track. I guess that's what "not be as bothered" and not as "restrictive" mean. I'm not saying this is what always happens when someone moves out to the country, but it has happened a lot around here in the past. The city of Grand Forks has a right to not want "neighbors" like this living right next town.

Anonymous said...

WOW ! ! ! If I moved out of the Imperial Grand Forks and am not a farmer, I'm rural trash???

What an arrogant SOB, please stay in the "city"!

GrandForksGuy said...

Anonymous, you don't seem to have fully read my comment. I didn't say that all or even most people that move to the country around here act like this. I simply said that it does and has happened quite a bit. I have been a first hand observer of this. Although I now live in Grand Forks, my family owns a farm relatively close to the city. We have seen people move into our quiet part of the country and turn it into something far different than it once was. Don't get me wrong...most of the people that have moved in are fine people, but there is a percentage that do not make good neighbors.

The city of Grand Forks is able to make sure that developments in town conform to neighborhood and citywide standards...why should they not be able to do the same with areas very close to town (areas that may someday become part of town, for that matter)?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll give you that one and retract the SOB remark. :-)

And I understand the regulation so we don't get more wrecking yards, but why the "one residence per 40 acres" if not to only protect the three landowners that own all the land around the city?

After all , take a look around town and in the past news. They city can't even enforce the loud party ordinance without penalizing landlords. If they had taken action in the past the problem wouldn't have existed.

I dont' know how long you have been around here, but this city has a history of protecting special interests, such as existing businesses at the expense of bringing in new jobs, etc.

Remember the grocery owner mayor?
Remember the empty parking lot around the concrete steps on 32nd Ave So? The parking lot was abandoned by Osco B_ _ _ _ (can't remember the exact name) when the city wouldn't let them keep the downtown Osco pharmacy and the one on 32nd at the same time.
And what is there now in that location?

What a coincidence. . . . . . .