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Page 4 ■ Thursday, April 5, 2012

BAKKEN NEWS Morton to adjust

man-camp policy Crowd attends meeting about proposed rules

By LEANN ECKROTH Bismarck Tribune The draft of a man-camp policy

for Morton County was met March 29 with demands for higher fees, clearer wording about allowed borders and setbacks and assurances the county would be able to provide adequate emergency and police services.

Some people called for a moratorium or ban on man camps completely.

After 90 minutes of testimony from the nearly 100 people at the meeting, the Morton County Planning and Zoning Commission tabled action on the policy until late April. This will al- low county tax equalization director Linda Morris and county engineer Mike Aubol time to tweak the special use permit proposal. The county zoning commission

asked that setbacks be changed to one mile away from existing residences, businesses, schools and churches. Dropped was a reference to ban- ning the temporary worker housing from the edge of an extraterritorial boundary. County planning com- missioner Andy Zachmeier said he doubted the county had the authority to override state extraterritorial laws. It was also noted that affected cities would have fi nal say in what they want or don’t want inside their extraterrito- rial jurisdiction.

Others said the policy needs to be

fl exible to allow landowners to put a man camp near their rural residences if they want. Fees now outlined in the draft pol- icy include: ■ A $400 minimum temporary housing fee for each projected occu- pant of the man camp units. ■ A $35,000 fee for a minimum of two years for a 100-person camp and

$5,000 per year for every 100 people thereafter. ■ Cleanup bonds ranging from $20,000 for up to a 50-person camp to $250,000 for a camp housing 501 to 1,200 people.

Some people called for a moratori- um or ban on man camps completely. County attorney Allen Koppy said he doubted that a complete ban would survive a legal challenge. “It’s lawful activity, so I don’t think it would,” he said.

“I just ask for extra coverage for the people in the country if they get increased crime out there. They might need more sheriffs, they might need more fi re department and (there’s the) litter along the road,” said Mor- ton County landowner Jennifer An- derson. “Do you think that $35,000 is going to cover all those things? It’s not going to come close to it.” Anderson said she felt sorry for

workers facing housing shortages, “but it’s not going to be a benefi t to us. Why are the fees so low?” Several audience members warned that large oil companies can power up with lawyers and easily fi nd ways around the zoning laws if Morton County’s man-camp laws are too vague. Aubol and Morris were also asked

to include revisions that protect pub- lic parks and campgrounds from be- ing used like man camps. County Commission Chairman

Bruce Strinden assured those attend- ing that the draft was only being done in case the county receives a man- camp application. “The county has not been contacted about these,” he said. Nor is there any drilling for oil in Morton County at this time, he said. The planning and zoning com-

mission will make a recommendation about changes to the draft policy in April and the Morton County Com- mission will decide the fi nal action on the policy. (Reach LeAnn Eckroth at 701-250- 8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarcktri-


Regional water supply project debated

By NICKSMITH Bismarck Tribune

sion heard testimony from members of the Western Area Water Supply Author- ity as well as concerns from members of the Independent Water Providers group about a regional water supply project on March 29. Independent Water Providers mem-

Members of the State Water Commis-

said there are multiple water depots near the locations already providing water. “How are they going to minimize the impact on the farmers and ranchers? I feel this is wrong,” Ames said. Dale Behan, owner of Lindale Pipe-

bers sought to make the case that they’ve already been providing water for industri- al use to the oil industry in western North Dakota through private water depots, alleging that the planned WAWS water depots are unfair government-sponsored competition. The WAWS project is a $150 million

line, said he has invested more than $5 million in a pipeline that stretches 20 miles north from Trenton and is planning an additional 70 miles of pipeline. He said WAWS puts such investments at risk. “North Dakota is considered to be one

of the most business-friendly states,” Be- han said. “This is not a good deal.” Dave Johnson, project manager for

regional water supply project approved by the Legislature during the 2011 ses- sion. Using Missouri River water origi- nating at the water treatment plant in Williston, the system would provide municipal and rural water to surround- ing communities including Watford City, Ray, Tioga, Stanley, Wildrose and Crosby. Excess water would be sold for industrial use to fi nance the loan approved by the state for the project. After testimony was heard from both

sides, debate was halted at 5 p.m. The legal counsel for the Water Commission will be consulted as to what, if any, policy decisions the board has authority to make regarding potential changes to the proj- ect.

overbuilt,” said Steve Mortenson, a farmer and water provider from Williston. Mortenson added that the project is

“We believe this project is being vastly

unfair competition to individuals such as himself who have invested time and money setting up depots and getting in- dustrial water permits from the state to do so. Mike Ames, owner of Agri-Industries

the WAWS project, said the group has done extensive work to determine where depots are and to minimize the impact on independent water providers, as was mandated in House Bill 1206, which es- tablished the WAWS Authority. “We looked very hard at where we

located off of one of the main transmis- sion lines along the project route. They’re located, he said, where there are major roads that can withstand heavy loads and where the growth of communities and oil activity are expected to be. Taking independent water provid-

could locate these depots,” Johnson said. Johnson said that the depots need to be

ers’ concerns into account, Johnson said they’ve eliminated six water depots from the project: depots near Wildrose, Ray, Tioga and Stanley, at the junction of U.S. Highway 200 and U.S. Highway 85 in McKenzie County and near the junction of highways 2 and 85 four miles west of Williston. In addition, he said, the depot near the 29-mile corner has been delayed until the needs in that area are better de- termined. Mark Owan with Williams Rural Wa-

in Williston, said the number of indepen- dent water providers has grown from 45 in 2010 to approximately 100 now. “We feel that anyone ... should have an

posed WAWS depots at what is known as the 29-mile corner east of Williston and what is known as the 13-mile corner, a curve north of Williston along U.S. High- way 2 where the highway turns east. He

ter testifi ed in favor of the project. He said that Williams Rural Water placed a mora- torium on new hookups in November. Williams Rural Water has 6,200 residen- tial and 240 commercial water hookups pending, as well as for one man camp, he said.

opportunity to participate in this mar- ket,” Ames said. Ames expressed concerns about pro-

also testifi ed in favor of WAWS, saying that the city’s water supply is poor and high in sodium content. He added that housing projects are expected to increase the population by thousands, creating a need for quality water. (Reach Nick Smith at 701-250-8255 or

Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford

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