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Fargo City Commission - December 28, 2020 Minutes

The Regular Meeting of the Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, was held in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall at 5:00 o'clock p.m., Monday, December 28, 2020.
The Commissioners present or absent were as shown following:
Present: Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston, Strand, Mahoney.
Absent: None.
Mayor Mahoney presiding.

The Mayor read a message with the following information: Fargo Cass Public Health is continuing to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine through the eligible priority groups; the Library’s activities include online Winter Read-a-Thon, StoryWalk on the Plaza, Paws for Reading, take and make activities for adults and expanded Dial-a-Story services; the Inspections Department has published a summary of rental inspection policies and protocols on its website, the Amazon project is moving along at a fast pace; there was a moment of silence for Police Support Specialist Joan Schaefer who passed away December 21st after a courageous battle with cancer; the Fargo Police Department had 109 applications for the 2021 Fargo Police Academy and 76 were interviewed for 20 available spots. Videos were shared of the “Cops and Kids” activities and PD officers assisting with a Salvation Army food distribution event at the FARGODOME.

Order of Agenda Approved:
Commissioner Piepkorn moved the Order of the Agenda be approved, continuing Item No. “26c” on the Regular Agenda to 5:15 p.m. on January 11, 2021.
Second by Gehrig. All the Commissioners voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Minutes Approved:
Commissioner Preston moved that the Minutes of the Regular Meeting of the Board held on December 14, 2020 be approved as read.
Second by Strand. All the Commissioners voted aye and the motion was declared carried.

Consent Agenda Approved:
Commissioner Strand moved the Consent Agenda be approved as follows:
1. City of Fargo Resolution Authorizing Officers to Make Deposits and Withdrawals and designated depositories (Attachment “A”).
2. Bid awards for janitorial services:
a. Main Library to Osgood Cleaning LLC in the amount of $252,000.00 for three years (RFP21014-A).
b. City Hall/West Wing/Sky Commons to Automated Maintenance Services Inc. in the amount of $611,928.00 for three years (RFP21014-B).
c. Fargo Cass Public Health to Automated Maintenance Services Inc. in the amount of $416,772.00 for three years (RFP21014-C).

3. Change Order No. 1 for an increase of $57,084.00 for Project No. FM-16-A1.

4. Negative Final Balancing Change Order No. 2 in the amount of -$4,980.00 for Project No. AN-20-B1.

5. Negative Final Balancing Change Order No. 2 in the amount of -$107.50 for Project No. TR-19-A1.

6. Estimate in the amount of $93,700.00 for Cass County Electric Cooperative to bring permanent power to the new flood control lift station (Project
No. FM-16-A1).

7. Revision to Section 2100 Concrete Paving, and Curbs and Gutter of the Standard Specifications for Construction.

8. Second Amendment to Agreement with Ovations Food Services, L.P. d/b/a Spectra Food Services and Hospitality.

9. Grant award in the amount of $25,000.00 from the ND Department of Commerce for the Hospitality Economic Resiliency Grant (no local match is necessary).

10. State Water Commission request for cost reimbursement for the FM Metro Area Flood Risk Management Project for costs totaling $1,070,511.23.

11. Public Assistance Grant Program Subgrant Agreement with the ND Department of Emergency Services.

12. Property Use Agreement and Release Form with Faith Journey Lutheran Church.

13. Set January 11, 2021 at 5:15 p.m. as the date and time for a hearing on a dangerous building at 1418 1st Avenue North.

14. Bid award and Agreement with Ed’s Towing Service, Inc. for removal, impound and disposition of junk cars for 2021.

15. Change Order No. 4 for an increase of $69,942.00 for demo of old City Hall.

16. Agreement Amendment with Reach Partners, Inc. in the amount of $30,000.00 for management of the quarantine and isolation setup at 222 4th Street North, contingent upon Finance Committee approval.

17. Contract Amendment and Change Order with MDM Construction, LLC in an amount not to exceed $225,000.00 for construction services at 222 4th Street North.

18. Amendment to Contract Nos. 38190960 and 381809878 with the ND Department of Transportation (CFDA #s 20.513 and 20.526).

19. Sole Source Procurement with Midwest Ironworks for Project No. WA1905 (SSP21017).

20. Bills in the amount of $15,839,162.83.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Negative Final Balancing Change Order No. 1 for Improvement District No. AN-19-J1 Approved:
Commissioner Strand moved Negative Final Balancing Change Order No. 1 in the amount of -$7,031.50 for Improvement District No. AN-19-J1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Negative Final Balancing Change Order No. 1 for Improvement District No. PR-20-C1 Approved:
Commissioner Strand moved Negative Final Balancing Change Order No. 1 in the amount of -$4,018.44 for Improvement District No. PR-20-C1 be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

P.C. Concrete Alley Paving, Water Main and Incidentals Improvement District No. AN-20-E (Graver Alley from 1st Avenue North between Roberts Street and Broadway):
Commissioner Strand moved the following action be taken in connection with P.C. Concrete Alley Paving, Water Main and Incidentals Improvement District
No. AN-20-E:

Adopt Resolution Creating Improvement District No. AN-20-E:
WHEREAS, The Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, deems it expedient that Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be created,

The south 200 feet from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue North between Roberts Street North and Broadway North.
COMPRISING:
Lots 1 through 3, Block 1.
All in Kesler First Addition.

Lots G through S, Block 2,
All in Hagaman’s Subdivision of Part of Block 2 Roberts Addition.

All of the foregoing is located in the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That P.C. Concrete Alley Paving, Water Main and Incidentals Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be and the same is hereby created.

Request Report and Estimate of Cost From the City Engineer for Improvement District No. AN-20-E:
Direct City Engineer to report as to the general nature, purpose and feasibility relative to the construction of Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota; as well as an estimate of the approximate cost of said construction. (The Engineer's estimate of cost is $163,673.18.)

Order Plans and Specifications for Improvement District No. AN-20-E:
Direct City Engineer to prepare Plans and Specifications for the construction of Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota.

Adopt Resolution Approving Plans and Specifications and Engineer's Report for Improvement District No. AN-20-E:
WHEREAS, The Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, has created Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, as required by law; and
WHEREAS, Plans and Specifications and the Engineer's Report prepared by the City Engineer, have been considered.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the Plans and Specifications and Engineer's Report for the construction of Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be and the same are hereby approved and ordered filed in the Office of the City Auditor.

Adopt Resolution Declaring P.C. Concrete Alley Paving, Water Main and Incidentals Necessary:
BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF CITY COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY OF FARGO:
That it be and is hereby declared necessary to construct P.C. Concrete Alley Paving, Water Main and Incidentals Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, according to the Engineer’s Report for this district and the Plans and Specifications approved by the Board of City Commissioners of the City of Fargo, North Dakota, filed in the Office of the City Auditor, and open for public inspection. A map of the district is attached hereto and incorporated as if fully set forth herein.
That a portion of said P.C. Concrete Alley Paving, Water Main and Incidentals improvement is to be paid from State and Local Funds, and approximately 85% is to be assessed against the benefited property in amounts proportionate to and not exceeding the benefits to be derived by them respectively from said improvement.
Protests against the proposed P.C. Concrete Alley Paving, Water Main and Incidentals must be in writing and must be filed with the City Auditor's Office within 30 days after the first publication of this Resolution.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City Auditor's Office is hereby instructed to publish this Resolution, as required by law.

Direct City Auditor's Office to Call for Bids for Improvement District No. AN-20-E:
Direct City Auditor's Office to publish a Notice, as required by law, calling for bids for the construction of Improvement District No. AN-20-E in the City of Fargo, North Dakota.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract for Sanitary Sewer, Water Main, Storm Sewer, Paving and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-M1 Approved:
Commissioner Strand moved the Contract between the City of Fargo and Dakota Underground Company for Sanitary Sewer, Water Main, Storm Sewer, Paving and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-M1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota, be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Contract Bond for Sanitary Sewer, Water Main, Storm Sewer, Paving and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-M1 Approved:
Commissioner Strand moved the following described Contract Bond be approved as to sufficiency:
United Fire and Casualty Company, in the amount of $1,789,299.60, for Sanitary Sewer, Water Main, Storm Sewer, Paving and Incidentals Improvement District No. BN-20-M1 in the City of Fargo, North Dakota.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Preston and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Resident Comments:
Christopher Coen shared his concerns about the openness of City government and Paul Jensen of the Citizens Local Energy Action Network (C.L.E.A.N.) encouraged the City’s continued sustainability efforts and gave recommendations for clean energy alternatives.

Applications for Property Tax Exemptions for Improvements Made to Buildings Approved:
a. Karri and Robert Becker, 60 Fremont Drive South (3 year).
b. Jane Voglewede and David Abbott, 2961 Peterson Parkway North (3 year).
c. Edward and Carolyn Bean, 3541 29th Street South (3 year).
d. Jonathan and Sadie Erickson, 161 South Woodcrest Drive North (5 year).
e. Michael and Delpha Haugrud, 1533 10th Street South (5 year).

Commissioner Piepkorn moved the applications be approved.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Piepkorn, Gehrig, Preston, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Application for Games of Chance for the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 941 for a Raffle on April 30, 2021 Approved:
Commissioner Gehrig moved the application be approved.

Second by Preston. On call of the roll Commissioners Gehrig, Preston, Strand, Piepkorn and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Parcels of Land in Darling’s First Addition Rezoned (721 University Drive South):
At a Hearing held on December 1, 2020 the Fargo Planning Commission recommended approval of a change in zoning from LC, Limited Commercial
and MR-2, Multi-Dwelling Residential to MR-2 Multi-Dwelling Residential.
The City Auditor's Office published a Notice of Hearing stating this is the time and date set for said Hearing at which time all interested persons could appear and would be heard.

Current Planning Coordinator Donald Kress said the zoning change is for property that was a long-time convenience store near the Alternative High School. He said the property has two zones on it, partly Limited Commercial and partly Multi-Dwelling Residential. The applicant, Fraser LTD, is requesting it be properly zoned to MR-2, Multi-Dwelling Residential.

Jon Lowry, Lowry Engineering (via conference call), said this is for additional space for staff which should alleviate neighbors’ concerns.

In response to a question from Commissioner Preston asking whether there had been neighborhood meetings, Mr. Kress said he is not aware of formal meetings; however, there were neighborhood comments at the Planning Commission meeting and Mr. Lowry and project representatives explained that it is not going to be another housing unit.

Commissioner Preston said it would be a good idea for Fraser LTD to meet with the neighborhood.

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand asking whether the construction shown in the photo on the property would have been contingent on Board approval, Mr. Kress said that does happen on occasion and developers take that on at their own risk. He said it is built and designed to the more restrictive MR-2 standards.

Mr. Lowry said they adhered to the more restrictive standards to limit the risks and the timing for frost setting in played a part.
Commissioner Strand said he is not opposed to the project; however, he does not appreciate getting the cart ahead of the horse. When there is a Public Hearing, he said, the people need to be allowed the opportunity to have their say and hear the concerns, then construction can move ahead. He would appreciate waiting until the Public Hearings have happened and the public has their say, otherwise, he said, it looks like it does not matter what the Board does.

Planning Director Nicole Crutchfield said if the zoning were denied, the owners would have two choices; to occupy the building under a MR-2 use as allowed by right or remove the foundation and start again, all of which was explicitly described to them. Part of their plea to the Planning Department was the expanding social service demands, she said, and the case rose to the level of having a letter in the file relieving staff and the City’s obligations if they were denied.

Mayor Mahoney said he would also affirm that the regular routine pattern should be followed, and then the neighborhoods are better informed.

Commissioner Preston offered the following Resolution and moved its adoption:
WHEREAS, All legal requirements in connection with the above-described request for rezoning have been complied with; and
WHEREAS, There have been no written or verbal protests to the request for rezoning and no one is present to protest thereto.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the findings of staff be accepted and the rezoning be approved on the basis that the proposal satisfactorily complies with the Comprehensive Plan, Standards of Section 20-0906.F (1-4) and all other applicable requirements of the LDC.

Second by Gehrig. On the vote being taken on the question of the adoption of the Resolution Commissioners Preston, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the Resolution was adopted.

First Reading of an Ordinance Rezoning Certain Parcels of Land Lying in Darling’s First Addition to the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota:
Commissioner Preston moved the requirement relating to receipt of the Ordinance by the Commission one week prior to first reading be waived and that the Ordinance Rezoning Certain Parcels of Land in Darling’s First Addition to the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota be placed on first reading.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Preston, Gehrig, Piepkorn, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Request for the Establishment of the Oak Grove Neighborhood Historic Overlay District on Keeney and Devitts Second Addition; Oak Grove Addition and Lindsay’s Addition Approved (Bounded on the North by 8th Avenue North, East by Short Street North, South by 6th Avenue North and some areas further south towards the Red River, and West between 1st and 2nd Street North):
A Hearing had been held by the Fargo Planning Commission on December 1, 2020 for the purpose of considering a Request for the Establishment of the Oak Grove Neighborhood Historical Overlay Zoning District on Keeney and Devitts Second Addition (Blocks 29, 30, 39, 40 and 41); Oak Grove Addition (Blocks 1, 2 and 3); and Lindsay’s Addition (Blocks 2, 3 and 4); and the Fargo Planning Commission at such Hearing accepted the findings and recommendations of the Historic Preservation Commission and staff and recommends to the Board of City Commissioners the request be approved.
The City Auditor's Office published a Notice of Hearing stating this is the time and date set for said Hearing at which time all interested persons could appear and would be heard.

Current Planning Coordinator Donald Kress said this is a Historic Overlay District located in the Oak Grove Neighborhood which includes 175 properties, largely residentially zoned. The Board received some additional letters after the agenda packet was published, he said.

Malcolm Butler, 73 South Terrace North (via conference call), said he has lived in his home for four decades and has seen the neighborhood change quite a bit. A number of homes are gone, some replaced by a condo, school expansion by Oak Grove School and many lost to flood buyouts, he said, so there is a change in scope to the neighborhood; however, not to the character or the loyalty of surviving residents. A decade ago, he said, the eastern portion was designated as the Oak Grove Historic Residential Neighborhood, which was a great honor; however, it provides no protection against the development onslaught the neighbors are concerned with. He said the character of the neighborhood could be changed by property speculation and infill with contemporary housing. For more than a century, he said, people have lived with the limited space and adapted, there is no room for three-car garages. As flood protection is gained it is becoming increasingly space limited, he said, and he does not want to see the surviving neighborhood whittled down to accommodate expanded multi-unit housing and associated parking. An Historic Overlay District (HOD) seems the best tool to protect what the neighborhood loves, he stated.

Paul Gleye (via conference call) said he serves on the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). He said a letter opposing the Oak Grove Historic Overlay District mentioned his name; however, it misconstrued his remarks and he would like to correct the record. He said a HOD is not a Homeowners Association (HOA), there are no dues, no fundraising and is not complaint driven. It is guided by a set of duly adopted design standards for a district, he said, which come into play only as part of the City’s building permit process. His comment, he said, was that the City has established seven Historical Overlay Districts that have proved successful in enhancing core neighborhoods. The City’s website has meeting minutes for the Historic Preservation Commission going back many years, he said, and do not show any strife imposed on homeowners in those seven districts. He said he continues to support this designation for the benefit of neighborhoods.

Carol Pearson (via conference call), said she is the liaison for the neighborhood HOD working group, and is thankful for the unanimous approval by the HPC and the Planning Commission. She said the Oak Grove Neighborhood is unique and has developed a sense of place over its 100-plus years that is irreplaceable. Oak Grove property owners will benefit from the stability and quality of life that a HOD provides, she stated.

Matt Ramsett, 620 1st Street North, spoke in opposition to the HOD. He apologized to Mr. Gleye stating he did not in any way intend to attack his character if that is how he took it. He said there was a mention in the video of the November 17, 2020 meeting where there was a comparison in property values in an HOA in south Fargo neighborhoods and historically what a HOD can do. He said his view of those working on this is that they are trying to protect their community; however, he does not feel they are using an HOD correctly. He said he did not purchase his home two years ago to be a part of these restrictions that would occur. He said an overlay is not its own district and has to be applied to a historic district, which in this case applies only to North and South Terrace. Other than a discussion meeting in 2018, he has not been involved in the process, he said; however, he has not seen anything that says it can extend past its initial boundary.

Ms. Crutchfield said this is a neighborhood initiative to set up rules and guidelines for oversight on single-family home preservation. She said consultations with NDSU’s Architecture Program and professors helped to assess and lead to this overlay.

In response to a question from Commissioner Preston asking whether there was a change to the boundaries at any time in this process, Ms. Pearson said the main change that happened was the work group included the area recently developed by Jesse Craig; however, they were told that area could not be included due to it already being in the process with the Planning Department. She said one small change in the boundary was to include the west side of First Street.

Mr. Kress said the original boundary showed east of First Street, which was corrected so the adjusted boundary was on both sides. He said all the people in the boundary and 300 feet around got notices and then a second notice explaining the change.
Commissioner Gehrig said he is not a fan of historic overlays due to them putting standards on certain areas above and beyond the rest of the City. He said that usually means it costs more to live there, and this is an affordable part of Fargo, in general. He said people could be priced out of their homes with standards such as requiring steel siding or a certain type roof. He said if the belief is that special protection is valid, why not do it for all of Fargo to treat everyone the same.

In response to a question from Commissioner Strand asking what enforcement there is in such an overlay, Ms. Crutchfield said it is not really enforced. The HPC has very knowledgeable technical members, and it would be hard pressed to say such an overlay adds costs to a building, she said, it is about keeping with the era of that house. The HPC will guide, advise and give a permit/certificate, she said, and at that point the builder has a relationship with the Inspections Department and things get coordinated that way.

Commissioner Strand said it would be good to explore what could be done for incentives for people to step up the quality of their historic homes in a historic district.

Ms. Crutchfield said that is a great question for the Core Neighborhood Plan process. She said staff’s preference was to complete the Land Development Code rewrite in the Core Neighborhood Plan prior to doing this overlay; however, it was moved forward because the neighborhood in the Oak Grove area put so much energy and volunteer work into the initiative. She said this application it was taken as any would, while other HODs were staff initiated.

Mayor Mahoney said many people would be able to do a tax exemption for three to five years on improvements.

Commissioner Preston offered the following Resolution and moved its adoption:
WHEREAS, All legal requirements in connection with the above-described request for establishment of a Historic Overlay Zoning District have been complied with
WHEREAS, The Fargo Planning Commission approved the request on December 1, 2020 and
WHEREAS, There have been no written or verbal protests to the petition for establishment of a Historic Overlay Zoning District and no one is present to protest thereto.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That the petition for establishment of a Historic Overlay Zoning District of the above-described property in the Oak Grove Neighborhood Historic Overlay Zoning District be and the same is hereby approved.

Second by Strand. On the vote being taken on the question of the adoption of the Resolution Commissioners Preston, Strand, Piepkorn and Mahoney voted aye.
Commissioner Gehrig voted nay.
The Resolution was adopted

First Reading of an Ordinance Rezoning Certain Parcels of Land Lying in Keeney and Devitt’s Second Addition, Oak Grove Addition and Lindsay’s Addition to the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota:
Commissioner Preston moved the requirement relating to receipt of the Ordinance by the Commission one week prior to first reading be waived and that the Ordinance Rezoning Certain Parcels of Land Lying in Keeney and Devitt’s Second Addition, Oak Grove Addition and Lindsay’s Addition to the City of Fargo, Cass County, North Dakota be placed on first reading.

Second by Strand. On call of the roll Commissioners Preston, Strand, Piepkorn and Mahoney voted aye.
Commissioner Gehrig voted nay.
The motion was declared carried.

Hearing on a Dangerous Building Located at 1021 10th Street North Continued to January 11, 2021:
A Hearing had been set for this day and hour on a dangerous building located at 1021 10th Street North; however, staff is requesting the Hearing be continued.

Commissioner Piepkorn moved to the Hearing be continued to 5:15 o’clock p.m. on Monday, January 11, 2021.

Second by Gehrig. On call of the roll Commissioners Piepkorn, Gehrig, Preston, Strand and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Appointments to the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee Approved:
The Board received a communication from City Administrator Bruce Grubb stating that in 2005 the City Commission created the Renewable Energy and Conservation Committee (RECC) for the purpose of making recommendations for increasing energy conservation and the use of renewable energy in City operations and facilities. In 2019, he said, Commissioner Strand hosted a Climate Change Town Hall meeting and invited comments from the public regarding their views on climate change and the role cities could play with respect to this matter. At the conclusion of the Town Hall meeting, he said, Commissioner Strand, Mayor Mahoney and Assistant City Administrator Michael Redlinger decided that the first step would be the preparation of a white paper to review past efforts related to renewable energy, emissions reductions, energy efficiency, climate resiliency and environmental stewardship. Additionally, he said, it was suggested the RECC be reactivated and new appointees named to the Committee. In November, he said, an Informational Meeting was held with the City Commission where a presentation of the white paper was provided. After the presentation, he said, it was recommended the former RECC be renamed the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee (SRC), whose role would be to make recommendations to the City Commission for actions or policy adoptions related to climate resiliency, renewable energy, emissions reductions, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship. He said it is further recommended that the following individuals be appointed as members of the SRC: Commissioner John Strand (chairman); Mayor Tim Mahoney; City Administrator Bruce Grubb; City Engineer Brenda Derrig; Director of Planning and Development Nicole Crutchfield; Public Works Director Ben Dow; Director of Facilities Management Brock Morrison; and Inspections Administrator Bruce Taralson. Ex Officio Members (non-voting), he said, would include representatives from Xcel Energy, Cass County Electric Cooperative, Fargo School District and Fargo Park District. He said it was also recommended that three public at-large appointments be made by SRC members after the completion of a public solicitation for interested persons.

Commissioner Gehrig said he does not feel the people know how much the City does, from the landfill to the water and sewer plants and all the things mentioned, Fargo has made things happen that other cities have not even fathomed, he said, and they are not “feel good” things, they actually save money, such as selling water to ethanol plants and gas to run boilers for businesses here.

Commissioner Strand said until one sees it all compiled into a presentation, one does not realize how far reaching it all is. He said there are people in town who are very involved in the issues of climate action, energy, resiliency and efficiencies and he looks forward to welcoming them to the table, even if they are not the designated at-large committee members. The City is routinely asked to declare a climate emergency, he said, and cities across the country are declaring such. He is not as worried about declaring a climate emergency, he said, because the actions being taken reflect being responsible, prudent and caring for the environment. He said let the results show Fargo cares about the environment. He said he commends Mike Williams for being on the forefront of these efforts when he was a City Commissioner and whose leadership continues with this work being furthered.

In response to a question from Commissioner Preston asking if the meetings of the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee would be televised, Mr. Grubb said they would; it is a committee appointed by the City Commission and meetings will be public and televised.

Commissioner Strand moved the appointments to the Sustainability and Resiliency Committee be approved as presented.

Second by Preston. On call of the roll Commissioners Strand, Preston, Piepkorn, Gehrig and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

COVID-19 Updates:
Fargo Cass Public Health Director Desi Fleming shared the status on COVID-19 numbers, which continue to decline. Active cases in Cass County are now at 377 with a decline in the 14-day rolling average positivity rate, she said. Hospitalizations in the area continue to decline and locally over the weekend, the discharge numbers were higher than the admission numbers. She said total deaths for the County are 164 with 1,270 deaths within the State. Fargo Cass Public Health has been allocated 360 doses of the vaccine so far from the Department of Health, she said, and are responsible for 3,000 individuals in Phase 1a and 1,300 in Phase 1b. There were some providers that did not sign up and are reaching out to be added to the list for vaccinations, she said, and there have been many agencies and community members lobbying for higher priority groups. She said they will follow the State’s recommendations and guidance. She is hopeful that the vaccine will become more readily available in the months ahead and she said, everyone is encouraged to be vaccinated when their priority group is up.

Mayor Mahoney said the statistics across the State look good and the Governor may change the category from Orange to Yellow sometime. He asked that the public please not call Public Health to change or get the vaccine early; they follow the Ethics Committee’s rules. Frontline workers, Police and Fire, nurses and doctors need to be vaccinated, he said, and the vaccine will be distributed as fast as possible.

Police Department Complaint Calls and Enforcement Update:
Police Chief David Zibolski said in the last reporting period, the Police Department conducted 40 proactive business establishment checks and all but one had no violations. He said a repeat business has resulted in three reports to the Liquor Control Board and another that generated a prior Liquor Control Board report; however, that business has made a 180 degree turn and come into compliance. Since November 16th, he said, the department has conducted 209 compliance checks with 90 percent being without violations. Of the 10 percent, 17 instances were educated and voluntary compliance gained and the others as previously described, resulted in reports to the Liquor Control Board and will be brought to the January meeting.

Business Assistance Program Update:
Assistant City Administrator Michael Redlinger said the January 1, 2021 implementation deadline will be met, a news release has gone out and a written communication will be sent to qualifying restaurants and bars this week. He said this will provide some meaningful relief to 440 licensed businesses. The $900 billion COVID Relief Bill was signed by the president just last evening, he said, and it companions the $1.4 trillion government operation funding bill which keeps the government operating without interruption as to not result in a shutdown this year. Included is Paycheck Protection Program No. 2 (PPP2), he said, which has $284.5 billion in new funds to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to guarantee both first and second business loans to those qualifying entities. The bill will be looked at more carefully to understand what is new and what it could mean for both non-profit and for-profit entities in the community and what else is new. He said it will take some time to get the program up and to get an application process out to the public. He said the implementation of the City’s program will begin and there will be work done with the Economic Development Corporation and Chamber, as well as the regional Taskforce and a survey they are working on. After that, he said, other business assistance gaps will be identified.

In response to a question from Commissioner Preston asking whether the application for this round will be similar to the first, which was difficult, particularly for New American businesses without ready access to a banker or attorney, Mr. Redlinger said it is not known what it will look like at this point. Given the bill was just signed, he said, the Treasury and the SBA have not given a lot of information. As far as local assistance, he said, there will be conversations with the EDC and Chamber, as they have done a good job encouraging people to talk to lenders and advisors. He said there are lessons learned from PPP1 that can help make a better process and as he learns more he will share updates in future meetings.

Commissioner Strand said he would like to not lose sight of successes, when this is all done there will be stories of things that went well and kept businesses alive that may not have otherwise survived. He said it is important to focus both on needs and to acknowledge successes.

Purchase of Property at 501 Main Avenue Approved:
Director of Strategic Planning Jim Gilmour said the financing plan for the Mercantile Parking Garage included the sale of the City-owned parking lot on the northwest corner of Main Avenue and Broadway. The City Commission approved a Resolution to authorize the sale of the property and advertise for offers, he said, and the request for offers required the property to be developed with certain conditions consistent with City plans. Those submitting offers were required to develop the property with main floor commercial or office space, to be at least four stories in height and the floors above the first floor to be office or housing. He said four offers were submitted and a group was assembled to review the offers with two offers clearly meeting the development criteria. One offer was to maintain the property as surface parking, he said, and another had only a small amount of main floor commercial space and other space under the building was surface parking. He said it was the unanimous recommendation of the review group that the proposal from JLG Development and F.I. Salter was the best. They would purchase it for $505,000.00, he said, and their proposal includes main floor and second floor commercial uses, a mix of housing in floors 3 to 5 and ten condos located on the top floor. The development would make use of the Island Park parking ramp across Main Avenue. The developer is also acquiring a portion of the Lake Agassiz Regional Council parking lot to the east, he said, which allows them to expand the site for the $21 million development. A final detail being worked on is for concerns the Engineering Department has with an exit onto Broadway, he said. A Hawk crossing similar to what is at the FARGODOME is being looked at, as well as incorporating public art, he said. The property needs to be platted before it could be developed, he said. Financially the City would benefit through the sale of the property, parking income of about $35,000.00/year and a $21 million development will pay significant property taxes in the future.

Sandy Hoff, F.I. Salter Real Estate Services, (via conference call) said he is stationed out of Duluth and has long envied the robust economic development attitude and economy of Fargo and when he had the opportunity to partner with JLG Development for this development at the gateway to Downtown, he jumped at the chance. He said F.I. Salter does development, appraisal work, management and leasing.

Commissioner Gehrig said this will be a wonderful complement to Downtown.

In response to a question from Commissioner Gehrig asking about incentives, Mr. Gilmour said the request for offers included a statement that no incentives would be offered, other than Renaissance Zone.

Commissioner Strand said he recalls that some years ago Mayor Walaker voted against a project next to the railroad tracks due to concerns about safety. In the recent past, he said, there have been up to 77 trains carrying oil speeding through town. He said he has had difficulties getting answers on who has authority to regulate train speeds through town and it would be remiss not to be on top of the question of safety when allowing development right next to a track when that used to be a concern and perhaps still is. He said he would like to have a more clear picture of overall safety of oil trains now and what the City’s role or influence is in their safety.

Mr. Gilmour said from what he has read, when there is a derailment at 30 miles per hour, rail cars tip and generally do not blow up; however, if the speed is 50-60 miles per hour and cars pile up, there can be an explosion. He said speed is the biggest factor in whether an oil train derailment causes a major disaster. He said as far as who regulates train speed in town, he believes it would be the federal government. He said he can check into who regulates the speed and bring back information on it.

Commissioner Preston said it is wonderful to see art included in the design of the development.

Commissioner Piepkorn moved the offer from JLG Development and F.I. Salter for 501 Main Avenue be approved, staff be directed to plat the property prior to the sale, and to draft a Development Agreement consistent with City plans and the offer from the developer.

Second by Preston. On call of the roll Commissioners Piepkorn, Preston, Strand, Gehrig and Mahoney voted aye.
No Commissioner being absent and none voting nay, the motion was declared carried.

Commissioner Piepkorn moved that the Board adjourn to 5:00 o’clock p.m., Monday, January 11, 2021.

Second by Gehrig. All the Commissioners voted aye and the motion was declared carried.
The time at adjournment was 6:29 o’clock p.m.