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Oil field housing, training facility gains ground with rezone approval: Stark Co. Commission OK's request; MBI to finalize construction plans

With protests by a neighbor lingering in the air, the Stark County Commission on Tuesday approved a rezoning request for 78 acres of Belfield land that Missouri Basin Inc. Energy Services plans to use as an oil field training and housing facility.

Jim Arthaud, CEO of MBI Energy Services, said the company hopes to start finalizing plans now that it has the commission's approval.

Brian Dolyniuk of Beach, the land owner, requested the zoning change at a Stark County Planning and Zoning Board meeting last month, so MBI could purchase the property and construct a 60-unit housing complex to accompany a workover rig and driver training facility.

The Planning and Zoning Board approved the request Aug. 30 and recommended the approval of the commission, which, while meeting in the Stark County Courthouse, voted 5-0 in favor of the rezone from agricultural to industrial.

"No matter what we do, the project is going to be in somebody's backyard," said Commissioner Jay Elkin, who is also on the county's Zoning Board. "The fact of the matter is this is about training, training drivers as well as individuals out there how to deal with the day-to-day happenings in the oil fields, whether that's the workover rig or handling hazardous material.

"We felt it was a good idea. Education is always going to be good and this is something that is probably long overdue."

Bob Procive, who lives a few hundred feet from the proposed development, urged the commission to table the request.

"When we were at the zoning meeting last Thursday, there was definite enthusiasm for this project and comments even before about making it go through," he said. "We need to not get the cart in front of the horse here."

Arthaud said MBI would use the facility to train its employees on workover rigs, wedge trucks, crane and hot oil trucks.

The final approval by the commission includes conditions that the facility will operate five days a week, with the workover rig operations and outside operations conducted from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to reduce the chance of disturbing neighbors.

"We train all of this stuff right now, but what we have to do, I do a work-week school in Medora then have to go to different facilities around the oil fields to do more," Arthaud said. "We do work 24-hours-a-day and we like to train people to work in the dark.

"That's probably one of the most critical operations we have in the oil field, so it's critical that we train people to work in the dark. I would have no problem whatsoever saying the workover rig work has to be done in the daylight hours."

Arthaud added that background checks are already conducted on MBI employees and alcohol will be prohibited on the site.

Procive reiterated that MBI needs to "be a good neighbor."

"I'm asking to maybe table this until next meeting, until a more comprehensive plan is developed," he said. "At this point, this thing is going to get approved and the county commissioners and the zoning commissioners and MBI guys go home, but none of you guys live there.

"My family and I live there," he added. "I have to live with it, whether it's good or bad. I am hoping it's good, but I'd like it to be addressed a little more definitively."