Fox Island residents express concerns over flood protection project

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Floods in Bismarck 2009 and 2011 forced county and state leaders to look at ways to protect vulnerable places. Seven years later, many Fox Island residents are still debating whether the plan they have will help.

Fox Island residents are looking for answers about how a flood protection plan doesn't protect everybody.

"What they're doing here is just a glorified curb that's on the north side of the road. Would have done the same thing only for a tenth or less of the costing right now,” said Gary Hanson. He opposes the project as it stands.

The plan was passed with 80 percent support of those who voted. Many are still behind the project.

"As many people should be protected by it and we feel that going forward with this project will provide the majority of residents with the flood protection that they need,” said Joe Heringer, a supporter of the project.

Gary Hanson is one of 22 homeowners not protected by the new plan. He signed a petition with neighbors asking to find an alternative route. They found themselves on the outside of the levee.

"We really, I don't think we were really included on a lot of the decision making that was involved with what's going on here,” said Hanson.

Greg Larson with the Burleigh County Water resource District said the project affects more than the houses on Fox Island.

"It protects almost everyone on Fox Island plus it protects the city waste water treatment plant, south Bismarck. It really closes the loop for the city, county protection,” said Larson.

Larson says he understand the objections, but the district is trying to do what's best for everyone.

"Not everyone is going to be happy. Mark Twain said it best when he said water is for fighting and whiskey's for drinking. So we're trying to please as many people as we can within the scope we have,” said Larson.

Larson said because the plan has been approved at multiple levels, the Water Resource District will not have a lot of flexibility in changing the plan.