North Dakota's largest city is planning to offer buyouts to residents of 56 homes next year as part of a plan to protect them from Red River flooding.
Fargo officials say the buyouts will likely cost about $24 million, The Forum newspaper (http://bit.ly/RQ5iwY ) reported. Nathan Boerboom, an assistant Fargo city engineer, said that several homes on the list are high-end properties.
"They are more of our at-risk neighborhoods, currently, so they are necessary for buyouts," he told the newspaper.
The Fargo area battled three straight major floods from 2009 to 2011, including a record-setting crest in 2009. A proposed $2 billion diversion channel has yet to reach Congress for consideration. Fargo officials are taking mitigation steps in the meantime.
The buyout program is being funded with city sales tax revenue, after voters approved a measure.
Homeowners are being offered 110 percent of the assessed value of the property, plus a $5,000 moving allowance. For homeowners who relocate to another house in Fargo, the city will pay up to $15,000 toward any special assessments on the new property.
The home on the current list with the highest assessed value is about $900,000. The average value of all 56 homes is about $370,000.
The program is voluntary. Boerboom said the city has heard from some homeowners who say they are willing to accept a buyout, while others "just feel they're not quite ready to move yet."
"That's fine with the city," he said.
Ann and Todd Haggart, who are 26-year residents of their home on River Drive South, say they will miss their property, but no longer have to live in limbo.
"None of us knew what to repair on our homes for those five years. It was a funny way to live," Ann Haggart told The Forum. "At least now we know."