Minot’s buyout process continues at slow pace

The federal government shutdown could be another delay in a home acquisition process that already is slower than property owners would like to see.

The City of Minot is waiting for federal approval of its action plan for the latest Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery dollars. The government shutdown has halted that approval process on the plan, which includes nearly $13 million for property acquisitions for future flood protection. The city also has a request for home acquisition funds that goes to the State Water Commission Monday. The federal and state approval is needed before the city can make its next round of purchase offers.

The Minot City Council’s Finance and Improvements Committee heard Tuesday from a property owner frustrated with the length of the buyout process.

“They tore our house down and they said we are in the buyout. But when do we get paid?” Ted Selfors told the committee.

He and his wife, Alyce, reported moving five times, with no ability to acquire a permanent home without income from the sale of their flooded property.

“We would like to get your situation resolved as quickly as we possibly can,” committee chairman Mark Jantzer said. “Everything takes way longer than we would like it to take.”

Cindy Hemphill, city finance director, said the city has plans for a phased buyout process should the state and CDBG-DR money become available for acquisitions. The first phase would include the areas of Fourth Avenue Northeast, Forest Road, Napa Valley and then Maple Street.

Hemphill explained that the city doesn’t know how many people will take the voluntary buyouts so it is making offers in phases. There is not enough money at this time to buy all the homes in the buyout area if all the homeowners agreed to sell, she said.

Acting on an agenda item, the committee voted to recommend the council amend its buyout procedures for determining property prices. Under the amendment, homeowners who have not rehabilitated going forward will be offered pre-flood assessed value, plus 15 percent. Homeowners who have rehabilitated will be offered current market value.

In other business, the committee recommended the council reject city participation in a $1.4 million upsizing of sanitary sewer with developers of the Bolton Heights Subdivision in north Minot. The committee voted 4-2 against participation, which would obligate city water and sewer users to repay a bond. The money would be recouped as the area is built out, but there is no way to know how long that might take. The issue arose because the city has no sewer trunk construction scheduled in its long-range capital improvement plan for the area where the developer wants to build.