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City Council says “No more” to man camps

Posted 8/24/11 (Wed)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

There won’t be any more temporary work force housing units going up within the city of Watford City or within the one-mile Extraterritorial Zoning Area (ETA).
The Watford City City Council, at a special meeting on Aug. 9, said that enough is enough when it comes to temporary work force housing and that it would not allow any new units to be erected within the area that it controls.
The sheer volume of requests for temporary work force housing has been causing the city council concern for some time. And, now that the city has received a $12.3 million impact grant to make infrastructure improvements into the ETA, the city council says that now is the time to quit issuing conditional use permits for new work force housing.
“We felt that it would be very negligent to spend this grant money toward new infrastructure improvements only to fill every available piece of land in the city and ETA with temporary work force housing,” states Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor.
According to Sanford, the number of crew camp requests was enough to take up every piece of available, undeveloped land within the city and in the ETA.
“Our hope is that this decision will make permanent developments, not temporary ones, more desirable for builders,” says Sanford.
As a result of the city council’s actions last Tuesday, only temporary work force housing developments that have already been approved will be allowed to continue, including the 5,000-square foot temporary housing development in the ETA.
The city’s decision hasn’t made the need for temporary housing, or the requests disappear. It has, instead, forced oil companies to build outside of the ETA.
“It’s not desirable,” says Sanford. “But we had to do what is best for the city and the ETA.”
Sanford and the city council feel that it is important to invest in permanent developments, to protect Watford City now and for the future.
“Hopefully, this move will help swing the pendulum away from temporary to permanent housing by further limiting the easier temporary option,” states Sanford. “This was an important decision point for the area immediately around Watford City for years to come.”