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Williston city leaders work to approve ban on living in RVs in city limits

WILLISTON, N.D. - Residents of about 400 campers throughout Williston will need to find another place to live soon if a new city ordinance is approved.

Members of the City Commission have approved the first reading of an ordinance that makes it illegal to live in an RV in city limits. They're discussing making it a Class B misdemeanor, subject to a $500 fine.

"We have been inundated with people coming here with no place to live," Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said Tuesday night during a commission meeting.

Williston Police Chief James Lokken estimates there are 300 to 400 campers in parking lots, yards and other areas throughout town that would be illegal under the new ordinance.

City Commissioner Tate Cymbaluk said the campers are posing health and safety risks to the community. The RVs are already "out of control" and commissioners fear that it's only going to get worse as the construction season gets underway, he said.

"Our intent is not to just kick people out," Cymbaluk said. "Our intent is to get some control."

Commissioners will consider the second reading of the ordinance in two weeks. Cymbaluk said they would likely postpone the effective date of the ordinance.

Several RV parks are being developed, but the number of spots that will be available is unclear.

"I'm still worried about the enforcement of this when they have no place to go," Lokken said.

A Catch-22 for the commissioners is that many of the RVs are occupied by construction workers who are building permanent housing in Williston.

Cymbaluk said commissioners also are discussing a possible allowance for a certain number of RV spots to be approved at construction sites.

Check back Thursday for more information.