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Stark County’s zoning board OK’s ‘Bakken Oil Express West’

Bakken Oil Express will expand to the west with an industrial rail park after its rezoning was approved for a site west of town Thursday.

The Stark County zoning board also denied an agricultural-to-industrial rezoning request from Northern Improvement Company, which wants to relocate its hot mix asphalt plant from a site on Highway 22 to a site near South Heart.

The company feels “pushed out” from its current location by encroaching development, and a site off Interstate 94 would cut down Highway 22 traffic and make it a safer road, Northern Improvement’s Bruce Squires said earlier this week.

“Hot plants aren’t the greatest neighbor in the world, so we bought that quarter so we would have that buffer zone,” Mark Hendrickson, a vice president with the company, told the board Thursday at Stark County Courthouse.

He said the company complies with regulations, but still, on a windy day, “all of a sudden, some dust blows.”

However, zoning board members followed county planner Steve Josephson’s recommendation for denial based on how the lot has no industrial zoning adjacent to it — in fact, the closest industrial land is 2.5 miles to the south. This would be spot zoning, he said.

“Once you approve this, there’s gonna be pressure on the surrounding lands to also go industrial,” Josephson said.

“I understand its proximity to the interstate but that pattern of industrial zoning just (wouldn’t fit) … and to approve this would start that in motion.”

Two neighbors of a current Northern Improvement project in the same area asked the board to deny the application because of the effects they’ve already seen.

The company has to “reevaluate” its plans after the denial, Squires said after leaving the meeting Thursday.

“We’d work so well with an agricultural area,” Hendrickson said.

Bakken Oil Express’s land, however, has industrial zoning in adjacent lots to the south and east. The board included stipulations, suggested by Josephson, to protect the agricultural land to the north and west.

Any land not being used as industrial must be used for agriculture; certain road and stormwater management improvements must be in place before building permits are issued; a 30-foot buffer, and screening in certain cases, is required between the industrial and agricultural land; and the developer must take care of dust and erosion control during construction.

Boundary Engineering’s Shawn Soehren told the board the facility would bring in frac sand and ready-mix concrete, and would provide railcar repairs.

There was no public testimony for or against BOE’s proposal.

Board chair Russ Hoff will bring the board’s recommendations to the full county commission at its Jan. 7 meeting.