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Proposed man camp law in Morton County needs changes

Extra chairs had to be brought into the Morton County Planning and Zoning Commission room in Mandan on Thursday as more than 50 people attended a meeting, Chairman John Shafer said.

Most of those who attended came to voice concerns over a proposed ordinance to regulate man camps, he said.

"We presented it and there were a lot of objections to it," Schafer said. "They said they just don't want them in the county."

Changes will be made and another public hearing will be held next month, he said.

The proposal presented stipulates several fees, including $400 per projected occupant, an annual special use fee of $25,000 and $35,000 for a minimum of two years for 100-person camps.

Concerns include emergency response and management, health standards and proper infrastructure for man camps, Commissioner Andy Zachmeier said.

The proposed ordinance also states crew camps can't be closer than 4,000 feet from an existing residence, business, school, church, or the edge of the extra-territorial boundary of incorporated cities.

Commissioners approved a request from the city of Hebron to extend its extraterritorial jurisdiction by a half mile, Schafer said.

"Within that extraterritorial one mile that they've got now, they don't have to abide by the county ordinance," he said. "They think by selling their sewer and water to the man camps, it will be beneficial to them."

In addition, commissioners approved an application by ALLETE Clean Energy of Duluth, Minn. to construct a wind energy conversion facility, Schafer said.

Belinda Eckroth, acting planning and zoning director, said it would be on the boarder of Morton and Mercer counties and near Morton County's three other wind facilities.

The project includes 51 turbines with 42 in Morton County, about seven miles east of Hebron, according to the company's application.

"We've had a lot of citizen feedback and so far we've had no complaints about additional wind turbines going up and being completed," Zachmeier said. "So I feel like our citizens have been satisfied with the ordinance we developed and that's the same goal we're looking to with our man camps."