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Billings County couple applies to park semis on farmland

A mixed vote by the Billings County Planning and Zoning Commission has sent a request to park semis on agricultural land to the County Commission.

Jeff and Rhonda King applied for a conditional use permit Thursday at the Billings County Courthouse in Medora to allow eight semis to be parked in their farmyard. The couple has been using their agricultural land to park a semi as part of Jeff King's Watford City-based trucking operation. The request for parking comes based on their concerns of theft.

"We ran the business before we put the shop up," Jeff King said of an approved structure on his land. "My truck was there before the shop was even put up. That's where I parked when I went home."

The land, located 10 miles south of Medora, was zoned agricultural in 2007 with the idea of retirement and vacation ranchettes, Zoning Inspector Stacey Swanson said.

When the subdivision was created, residents said they didn't want to mix industrial and agriculture, Planning and Zoning Commission President John Tczap said.

"We've turned down other people to do that," he said. "I just clearly don't think we should be intermixing industrial in with residential."

The most maintenance that would take place on the semis on the land would be washing and oil changes, Jeff King said. Dispatch for the trucks is in Watford City.

"The guys, they go up north, they get a dispatch on their phone," he said. "I have nothing to do with dispatch."

Because the trucks are used to haul oil and not crops, they don't count under the agricultural exemption. But the business is not based out of the Medora-area ranch; it just acts as a parking lot for the trucks.

"I'm not seeing it as a business," Commissioner Cathy Cerkoney said. "I'm seeing it as a place for them to park their trucks."

One of the biggest worries was that even though the King operation is not bothersome to neighbors, it opens up the door for others to operate large-scale non-agricultural businesses in the area.

"If this goes through, what's going to stop somebody south of us from putting in a business, not getting permission and then asking for forgiveness?" neighbor Sheila Marie said.

The Billings County Commission will hold its regular meeting at 9 a.m. Nov. 8 at the courthouse.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206