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Fisher Industries campers for housing OK'd by Stark Co. zoning board

Stark County zoning commissioners have been picky about permitting campers as residences lately, but a business representative, who wants to house employees, might have found the trick to gaining approval.

In early March, commissioners rejected all three requests to use campers for housing during a hearing to amend the county's zoning ordinance, but they granted Fisher Industries' General Counsel Tim Priebe permission to house employees in 14 campers Thursday, because he went the extra mile to make sure the company's specs are up to code.

"The plot is definitely done right. It looks good," Zoning Chairman Russ Hoff said during Thursday's meeting.

Priebe said he worked closely with Southwest Water District and North Dakota Department of Health to make sure septic hookups for the campers were planned correctly. He added that the campers would be for Fisher employees only and each lot would include 34 feet of space, electrical connections, separate addresses and a communal emergency shelter.

Priebe is also reserving Fisher Industries' camper location as an RV park, which previous applicants have been unwilling to do because they have only wanted temporary housing for a few people. During Thursday's meeting, Priebe also agreed to pay a fee, which Stark County Zoning Director Diane Brines said will most likely be higher than last year's $100 rate, due to new zoning ordinances.

"We want to do it right," Priebe said.

Fisher Industries set the bar for what needs to be done to properly house workers in campers, commissioners said.

"Tim, I want to compliment you on what you've put together," Commissioner Jay Elkin said.

Commissioners denied all of last month's camper-related zoning requests because some proposed sites were in locations too far out of town and lacked proper emergency management access and necessary energy and water amenities.

Developers who are denied permission can alter their plans and resubmit their camper projects to the county, commissioners added.

Wane Engkjer, a representative of Legacy Steel Building, asked commissioners if he could place a business and workforce housing near Belfield on Thursday.

Commissioners rejected Engkjer's request, but Elkin said Engkjer can revisit the commission if he chooses a different location.