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Fracking sand railroad depot proposed near Richardton

RICHARDTON -- There appeared to be more questions than answers about the proposed fracking sand railroad depot in Richardton during a public meeting Monday at Richardton Public School.

Richardton City Commission unanimously agreed in August to adopt a resolution to annex a nearly 80 acres of land southwest of the city for a fracking sand railroad depot.

The public meeting was meant to allow residents a chance to voice their concerns about a range of issues regarding the proposal, including chemical storage at the site and road issues.

The meeting continued after The Dickinson Press' publication deadline.

Residents told the Richardton City Commission that they were concerned about where Halliburton Co. will build a new road to access, which will have to be determined by the railroad company.

"Until (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) railroad decides where they want the road crossing to be, you can't move forward," one concerned resident asked the commission.

Al Heiser, Stark County road superintendent, expressed concerns about road access and road conditions if the proposed site becomes a reality.

"One of the biggest questions out there is an access road," he said.

Stark County Commissioner Jay Elkin, Taylor, urged residents to not be in a rush to approve the annexation and make sure road issues are worked out.

Frank Kirschenheiter, commission president, said one of the first issues the commission brought up when the project was proposed to them was that the city did not want the project to cost the taxpayers extra money.

"I do not want this to cost my mom, who is a resident here, a dime," Kirschenheiter said he told Williston real estate agent Roger Cymbaluk, who represented the property owners and was hired to assist with acquiring the land, when discussion about annexation first began. "This would be a good development for the community. But we, the city, are not going to flip the bill and the taxpayers are not going to flip the bill."

In regards to public concerns about road access, Kirschenheiter said the commission has presented its preferred crossings to the Halliburton.

"I think Halliburton thought they would have an answer from the railroad by now," he said.

When asked what the benefit would be to annexing the Halliburton site into the city, Kirschenheiter said the annexation would yield more property tax revenue for the city without adding a huge demand to the city services.

"This would bring the city a drastic increase in the way of taxable value, not to mention a significant increase in jobs," he said.