Companies and individuals wishing to do work in and under Dickinson's streets and alleys will have to apply for a permit through the city if an ordinance passes the Dickinson City Commission.
Informal communication is no longer sufficient for notification and the city is does not always know who is working in the right-of-way, City Engineer Bill Watson said. Not all road reconstruction meets city standards.
"We are engaging an engineer to provide construction management for the city and this right-of-way permit is an effort to help us determine when it is that contractors are doing work in the right-of-way," City Attorney Matt Kolling said.
The permit would have to be submitted and approved before work could begin, Kolling said.
In an effort to keep construction on schedule, the city would make sure all permits were returned within five to 10 business days, Watson said.
"We're committed to turning these around as quickly as possible," Watson said. "Especially on those plans that have already been approved by the city."
The fee associated with the permit will be set by the City Commission. At Monday's regular commission meeting, Kolling mentioned $250 though documents provided by the city states the fee is $500. The final fee will be set at an upcoming City Commission meeting, though a letter going out to area developers and contractors dated Wednesday states there will be a $500 fee for each application.
And the fee could be lessened or waived depending on the project.
"If maybe someone is just putting in a sidewalk panel in front of their house, well, they could get the project done for $250," Watson said. "We probably would waive the fee for something like that."
Some companies, like Montana-Dakota Utilities or Roughrider Electric Cooperative, have franchise agreements with the city and the fee would not apply to them, but they would still have to submit a permit for any planned work.
"We follow what the city -- what their requirements are," said MDU spokesman Mark Hanson. "That's kind of the bottom line."
The company had just received the letter from the city and plans to meet with Watson and staff before final approval.
Construction companies would also have to put down a $5,000 deposit to help cover the costs of the construction management team, a contracted group of engineers assigned to make sure projects are completed to city standards, according to the letter.
"What we're really looking for is compaction in the trench when they put the pipe in so when they put the street back on, it doesn't cave as can be seen in some of the developments around town," Watson said.
Those failing to apply for and wait for an approved permit will be prosecuted through municipal court, Kolling said.
There is an emergency provision in the ordinance, allowing work to be done without a permit.
"Immediately they can start working on an emergency situation and it's still the responsibility to follow up with the city before everything is wrapped up," Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns said.
A lot of the work MDU does is emergency repairs, Hanson said.
The permit is another way for the city to know what's going on within its borders.
"When you're in the kind of construction mode that we're in and what you're trying to manage today, informal communication breaks down," Mayor Dennis Johnson said. "You have to replace that with a more formalized system."
The City Commission unanimously approved the first reading of the ordinance at Monday's regular meeting at City Hall. Second reading and final approval will take place at a later date. The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. July 15.