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Commissioners decide not to pursue zoning

Posted 7/13/11 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

After holding two informational meetings regarding the need to establish some form of zoning in McKenzie County, the McKenzie County Commissioners decided last Tuesday that they will not be moving forward with any such plans.
During the two meetings, the commissioners found the county residents to apparently be as divided on the issue of zoning as are the individual commission members.
During the June 22 informational meeting in Watford City, the commission heard overwhelming support for the enactment of some form of county zoning. But the commissioners heard a completely different side of the argument at the June 27 meeting in Cartwright.
Based on the input from those two meetings, the commissioners, at their July 5 meeting, decided not to go forward with any other informational meetings and not to pursue zoning in the county.
“We, the commission, felt that we didn’t have enough support to go forward with zoning in the county,” stated Roger Chinn, chairman of the county commissioners. “We heard very strong opposition to doing anything and we have all had many telephone calls from county residents expressing their support of not pursuing zoning.”
While Chinn noted that the commissioners are all concerned about the possibility of some type of industrial development occurring around rural homes, the commissioners felt that enacting zoning would take away individual landowner rights.
“If we zone, we take away the right of the landowner to sell his property, only to protect the rights of his neighbors,” stated Chinn. “We just didn’t feel that was the right thing to do.”
Another reason that Chinn gave in the county not pursuing zoning was the question of how the county could enforce its ordinances.
“Currently the state of North Dakota has regulations that cover the dumping of sewage and garbage,” stated Chinn. “If they can’t do the job of monitoring what is happening, how can the county do it?”
While Chinn notes that the county commissioners did not take a formal vote on the issue of creating zoning in the county, it was the consensus of the board not to pursue it.
“We don’t know if the it was the right or the wrong decision,” stated Chinn. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”