Despite protests from neighbors, the Grand Forks City Council approved a rezoning request Monday that moves forward an apartment project on the city’s south end.
Developers submitted a request to rezone a property located at the corner of South Washington Street and 55th Avenue South from agricultural to multifamily use. The approval paves the way for an apartment project that would consist of two three-story buildings.
Several residents from the nearby Vineyard Drive neighborhood turned out to voice their concerns about apartments being built near them.
Resident Tana Setne worried the apartment would encroach on the openness of her neighborhood — one of the reasons she chose to build in the area.
“I would rather take my chances with something commercial coming in there,” she said.
Increases in traffic and crime that residents thought the apartments could bring also were reasons they cited for being against the development.
Resident Molly Hape said she was leery of the apartment buildings and what could follow them.
“This is our dream home,” she said of her house on Vineyard Drive. “It seems we’re going to be surrounded with lower and lower income housing.”
Council member Terry Bjerke wasn’t moved by the neighbors pleas.
“People need to live somewhere,” he said. “Are we supposed to put up a sign that says the only housing allowed here is for certain types of homes or — I’ll say it — money?”
Of the residents that spoke, the lowest known appraised value of their homes was $497,000, according to public county records. Bjerke’s frustrations were echoed by other council members.
“How close is too close?” asked council member Dana Sande in regards to the proximity of existing single-family homes to the multifamily development. “I am tired of constantly being badgered about zoning.”
The apartment property, which would house a 40-plex and 34-plex, is located about 400 feet from the nearest Vineyard home. The area in between is undeveloped.
These apartments that would be built in spring 2014 join the more than 1,500 units approved, under construction or completed this year.
To council member Bret Weber, the apartment boom the city has experienced this year and the frustrations that have come with it are “growing pains.”
“Grand Forks is growing and that’s a wonderful thing,” he said. “It’s a better set of problems to have than a shrinking city.”
The building boom will likely continue but could begin to slow as projects come under more scrutiny.
During Monday’s meeting, a rezone request for an apartment project that could see up to 145 units built at 2750 and 2900 DeMers Avenue was approved while another rezone request for a 138-unit apartment project proposed for property located at South 34th Street and Ruemnele Road was rejected.