Crew camp ordinance draftThe draft of an ordinance governing any possible crew camps in Stutsman County drew so many people to the Wednesday Stutsman County Zoning Board meeting that there was standing room only.
By: By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
The draft of an ordinance governing any possible crew camps in Stutsman County drew so many people to the Wednesday Stutsman County Zoning Board meeting that there was standing room only.
No decisions were made at the meeting, during which many people aired their general concerns about temporary crew camp lodgings.
Instead, concerns aired during the meeting by Zoning Board members, State’s Attorney Fritz Fremgen and the general public will be taken into account and incorporated into the draft ordinance.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and we’ll set up another zoning meeting, and we’ll go through it all over again,” said Dustin Bakken, zoning administrator for the county.
The next meeting of the Zoning Board has yet to be scheduled, but will likely be in three weeks or more, Bakken said.
When the Zoning Board approves an ordinance, it must still go before the Stutsman County Commission for approval.
Much of the contention over the new ordinance involved whether townships would be able to stop a crew camp from coming in.
“This by no means is taking away any of (township) rights as a zoning authority,” said Brian Amundson, a member of the Zoning Board and an officer on Buchanan Township Board. “… this is basically giving you guys a road map to go off of … because if you don’t have anything, what’s to prevent them from plopping (a crew camp) right next to your house, or something else?”
Amundson said that there were three options for townships if the county passes its ordinance:
* having no ordinance about crew camps at all.
* relinquishing crew camp zoning rights and responsibilities to the county, meaning that the county’s ordinance would apply.
* creating crew camp ordinances of their own, meaning that the townships maintain all the zoning rights as well as all the responsibilities for regulating crew camps.
The proposed county ordinance defines crew camps and requires anyone building a crew camp to get a conditional use permit for the facility, “according to local zoning jurisdictions and their respective ordinances.”
The ordinance also includes an array of other requirements for any potential crew camp, dictating a minimum space between structures and number of parking places, charging a fee of 50 cents per square foot and requiring a surety bond for clean-up and reclamation after the camp is taken down.
The ordinance provides for revocation of any conditional use permit for a crew camp, should the applicant become bankrupt, be convicted of a felony, violate health or sanitary regulations, conduct business in a disorderly manner or violate any terms of the conditional use permit.
“You’ve got to think of the big picture here, too,” said Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff. “I know you probably don’t like the man camps, but where are we going to put the people?”
Bakken said that there were 26 houses available between Jamestown and Valley City — a fraction of the housing that will be needed for workers building the fertilizer and ethanol plants in Spiritwood Energy Park, or even the plants’ permanent employees.
Suggestions that could be incorporated into future drafts of the ordinance include requirements for setbacks and percentages of lots covered and requirements for accurate images and inspection of the site before building occurs.
Fremgen compared the ordinance to the county’s ordinances on wind turbines and feed lots, which townships could also choose whether to adopt.
“A township that exercises its authority never has to relinquish its zoning authority,” Fremgen said.
According to Amundson, 15 of the 64 Stutsman County townships have their own zoning requirements.
“The last idea is ‘We don’t want it, and we’re never going to have that,’ I’m not so sure you can do that,” Fremgen said. “You can’t stop a person from reasonable use of their property. You can keep some things out of residential and shoot them over to commercial, (but) to think that you can tell (them) ‘no way, no how in our township’? Ehh — probably not.”
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen said that stating crew camps are simply not allowed anywhere opens local governments up to liability.
She also dismissed rumors of any imminent annexation of land into the city of Jamestown, as well as claims that a crew camp was planned within city limits.
“It’s less than rumor,” Andersen said.
According to Bakken, one landowner has spoken with him about the possibility of a crew camp in Homer Township in Stutsman County.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at email@example.com