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Published July 16, 2012, 10:08 PM

Housing Study Released; City Council Reacts to Recommendations

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - City leaders got a first look this evening at a housing study that details the needs and desires of the Grand Forks community.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - City leaders got a first look this evening at a housing study that details the needs and desires of the Grand Forks community.

And many council members expressed some concern after hearing the recommendations.

The in-depth study suggests the community needs more housing for low income families. But council members wonder if that's the best recommendation for the community.

Most can agree, they're happy to hear Grand Forks is growing.

"People want to stay here and live here and raise their family here," said a member of the Colorado research firm.

It's estimated that Grand Forks is growing by .7% each year. And council members want to know how Grand Forks sizes up to similar communities.

"Do you know how that compares to the other major communities in this state?" asked Ken Vein, of Ward 7.

"Um no I don't."

Mayor Michael Brown says that information is vital.

"Developers, realtors, all these people need information before they will invest in your community and the housing is crucial to economic development of a community," said Mayor, Michael Brown.

The comprehensive study suggests low income families need housing, but council member Terry Bjerke believes what was done awhile back to solve affordable housing, didn't fix the problem.

"All the lots are still empty so there's a lot of things to look at. I hope we take our time and don't rush to conclusions here," said Terry Bjerke, of Ward 1.

Another recommendation by the Colorado research firm is for the housing authority to be granted tax exempt status - that one didn't sit well with the council either.

"Colorado law and north dakota law are substantially different in what municipalities can and can't do from state to state so some of the recommendations may not be within the legal realm of feasibility in north dakota," said Grand Forks City Attorney, Howard Swanson.

"No I didn't look up what is allowed under North Dakota state law," answered a member of the Colorado research firm.

Study results also report Grand Forks is an active renters market, and that's something Mayor Brown says will be looked into in the near future.

"The goals for this commission is to get information so then we as a community can decide where we need to invest for infrastructure and other parts of the community so we then have a thoughtful deliberate approach to our development," said Mayor Brown.

The Blue Ribbon Commission, will be formed to crunch those numbers and information that was presented tonight to determine what the best solution is for the Grand Forks community.

The commission will form within the next few weeks and hope to be done before the end of this year.

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