Heads Up is a weekly column covering city government meetings in Grand Forks.
Grand Forks City Council has this Monday off so the Planning and Zoning Commission is in the spotlight this week.
Perhaps the most interesting project being brought forward to it for preliminary consideration is an apartment building planned for vacant land near the Columbia Road overpass.
Developers are asking the commission to grant a rezoning request for the land, which is zoned as business but would need to change to residential in order for the apartments to be built.
The apartments would be located north of DeMers Avenue and just west of the Columbia Road overpass. A maximum of 145 units could be put in the four-story building, which would be marketed mostly toward UND students.
At last month’s meeting, the developers first bridged the idea of creating housing on that land with the commission, according to a city staff report.
City Planner Brad Gengler expressed reservations about the building’s location at that meeting.
“I haven’t shown support for the project, in the sense that I just don’t support encouraging and increasing the amount of residential development adjacent to … a rail yard,” he said.
Other commission members did have concerns about the apartments’ proximity to the rail yard, mentioning the death of 20-year-old UND student Blake Ayling that occurred in the area last June.
Developers said they can’t prevent unsafe behavior but have plans to combat it. An eight-foot fence would be put up to cut off access to the rail yard from the apartment property.
Feedback from the committee seemed favorable, especially since the housing would be apartments for students and not single-family homes.
The Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.