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AS I SEE IT

Posted 5/16/12 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor!

How often have you heard these questions, “So when is something going to get built in Watford City?” Or “If Watford City is going to have 5,000, 7,500, 10,000 or 20,000 people living here, where are they going to find housing?” Or lastly, “When are we going to finally see new businesses come to town?”
All are very good questions. For a better part of the last two years, a lot of people have been wondering why nothing is being built and there are no new restaurants be they a regular sit-down or a fast food facility, or some kind of box store in Watford City?
Well, the answer to all of those questions is quite simple. Since Watford City literally doesn’t have any land left within its existing city limits to build homes and apartments on, it is pretty hard for much new construction to take place to meet our growing housing needs. The story is the same when it comes to any kind of new eating establishment or a new retail business. No land means no development of any kind.
But that problem is very quickly going to be solved as the Watford City City Council has gone about its job of extending water and sewer lines north, south, east and west in about a one-mile radius around the city limits into the city’s extraterritorial area (ETA). The price of this progress has not come without a big price tag. But thanks to a $12 million state grant, by the end of this year those infrastructure lines will be in place and then the development will occur.
So how much development could be coming? As Curt Moen, Watford City city planner says, “It will be a crazy amount of development.”
And the city council, at its regular meeting last Monday, quite literally threw open the doors for new housing and commercial developments in the ETA when it approved zoning changes, annexations and subdivision plats at the request of new developers that will encompass over 725 acres.
In reality, the developers have been hovering around Watford City waiting and waiting for water and sewer. And now that they have the city’s assurances that these improvements are going to be in place, they are pouring into Moen’s office at city hall to get started on their building projects.
So will 2012 be the year when serious construction activity begins in Watford City?
If you think that seeing the start of construction on 2,400 new apartment units this summer and them being ready for occupancy by next spring is serious construction, then the answer will be yes. And according to Moen, once construction of new apartments and other multi-family units and single family homes begins, the commercial development of restaurants and retail businesses will quickly follow.
Coming up with the plan to grow Watford City in a logical manner has taken time. Just as “Rome wasn’t built in a day” neither is it possible to grow Watford City in a day. But all of the prior planning and work done in the past two years has laid the groundwork by which Watford City will grow in the future.
The new developments that everyone will see in the coming months and years could very well be astounding. And while no one can guess whether Watford City’s new population is going to be 5,000, 7,500 or 20,000 residents living in new apartments and new homes at some time in the future,  this summer could very well mark the beginning of the biggest construction in the city’s history.
So hang onto your hats, folks, it’s going to get a whole lot crazier around here.