Thames Court development plans tabled again

Top: A rendering depicting the proposed Thames Court development with multi-unit townhomes. Bottom: Photo of twinhome similar in design to ones Genco Bakken Development would like to build in place of the previously proposed townhomes.
Image credit: Top -Genco Bakken Development Group, bottom – Nielsen Construction, Harrisburg, S.D.

Plans for an affordable housing development on Grand Forks’ north end were delayed again tonight as city officials and developers work to smooth out wrinkles in submitted requests.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted to table requests for replatting the area known as Thames Court until its meeting next month. The requests also were tabled at the commission’s last meeting.

The kinks stem from developer Genco Bakken Development Group axing plans for four- and five-unit townhomes within the proposed development. Instead, the company is choosing to pursue single-level twinhomes with garages.”A two story with no garage is affordable, but it’s not desirable,” Genco employee George Holman said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

He estimates the twinhomes would sell for about $175,000 when finished. The remainder of the development would be single-family homes.

The move from townhomes to twinhomes has city officials concerned about spacing between homes and between homes and the street. Genco is asking for smaller setbacks from the street and other homes than previously approved when the land was platted in 2006.

Below is a copy of its requests for space around the homes.

A list of requests for property setbacks for affordable housing development Thames Court submitted to the Grand Forks Planning and Zoning by Genco Bakken Development Group.

“I’m not trying to kid anybody, this is going to be tight,” Holman said of the lack of space between each home and the homes and the street.

Commissioners worried that such small setbacks from the street wouldn’t leave enough room to park a second car in driveways if the homes’ garages were built for only one car.

Bev Collins, ¬†administrator of the city’s Building Inspections Department, said her staff have been struggling with the development requests all summer, including trying to figure out where people can park in the development if they are unable to leave a car in the driveway.

The lots were made for two-story townhomes, not twinhomes, Collins said.

Holman apologized for the difficulties city staff had encountered with the project.

“The last thing I want to see is someone struggle,” he said.

Holman requested that the matter be tabled so Glenco could meet with city staff and make necessary changes to the requests.

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