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Published April 22, 2013, 10:38 PM

Grand Forks leaders aim to create housing incentives

City leaders are working to make Grand Forks development more attractive to builders by reducing cost risks and lowering some fees. The Blue Ribbon commission made initial recommendations and now they're being taken a step further.

City leaders are working to make Grand Forks development more attractive to builders by reducing cost risks and lowering some fees. The Blue Ribbon commission made initial recommendations and now they're being taken a step further.

The Finance Committee moved forward to the council some key recommendations this evening which many say rid the worry by many city leaders who originally thought that this Blue Ribbon Housing report would just sit on a shelf.

Doug Christensen, City Council Vice President: "If we don't have new rules in place by September 2013 then it's going to be hard for others to plan going forward."

Christensen says for further housing development in Grand Forks, the city first needs to straighten out its "big" issue, which he refers to as storm water retention and parks.

Christensen: "Rather than just get a couple of lines and draw an ordinance, I mean I think we should give guidance to the executive how we want this to be done."

A more aggressive annexation policy has been discussed to get the ball rolling faster.

Hal Gershman, City Council President: "I'm the business and you're going to annex me, I'm going to say what are my benefits, I get fire protection, I get police protection..."

Council members have long said it's the number of landowners in town and lack of incentives which plays a key role in the housing crunch. The council wants city leaders to continue discussions on reducing risk and encouraging sale for landowners.

Dana Sande, Councilman, Finance Chair: "The major benefit of that is incentivizing people that are speculating on land to actually get it for sale."

City finance developers have found a way to decrease administrative fees, such as construction finance among others.

Maureen Storstad, Finance Director: "So we could bring that from 27% down to 24%."

The Finance Committee moved to analyze the data each year to keep numbers relevant to the market. Many city leaders have said in the past few weeks, with the development on the south end as well as the development over where the new walmart will be -- the housing crunch will see some relief.

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