Housing: Dickinson may be home to thousands of oil workers by end of 2013Dickinson is on its way to getting its first crew camp.
Dickinson is on its way to getting its first crew camp.
At a Wednesday meeting in City Hall, the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously gave Accommodate International of Austin, Texas, the green light to build a 3,000-unit lodging facility on about 45 acres on Energy Drive on the east side of town.
The company needs to get final approval from the Dickinson City Commission before it breaks ground by the end of summer.
The camp would start its first phase in October and would begin with 1,000 units, Dennis VanLeeuwen of Accommodate said.
The company plans to have the camp fully operational by the end of 2013.
Housing has been problematic for hundreds of people coming to the area from across the country to work in the Oil Patch. It has also led to increases in rent for many long-time residents, officials said.
Commissioners hope the project will help lower rents in Dickinson.
“We have to have a facility like this to handle the temporary workforce that is here,” Commissioner Gene Jackson said.
The commission denied a special use permit for another company’s 600-unit man camp proposed Sept. 22, saying the site was a bad location. VanLeeuwen understands there are bad feelings toward the facilities because they look rough, but he said Accommodate approached the problem from a different angle.
“Our project does not look like worker housing,” he said. “It’s situated on a piece of property that really doesn’t have the entanglements that some of the others have come up against in the past.”
The lodging business wants long-term tenants and may put a 90-day minimum limit on their stay, VanLeeuwen said, adding it should not threaten the hotel or renting industry.
“This is a different product type with a very specific targeted occupant,” he said. “When I look at our product in relationship to anything from a hospitality standpoint, they’re different animals.”
Commissioners brought up issues with additional traffic, snow removal and employee shuttling.
VanLeeuwen said most employees will be bussed to their workplaces and the company will take snow removal into consideration.
Two residents brought up a concern for traffic along East Villard Street. The entrances to the road by Tiger Discount and Fisher Industries are dangerous and have seen several accidents, said Dickinson resident Bob Zent.
“I’m for something that is going to control traffic access so people can move in and off the streets without being constantly afraid of being hit,” he said.
Traffic was also a concern for Fisher general counsel and secretary Tim Priebe, but the crew camp appears to be a quality project and has an appropriate location, he said.
Fisher borders the northwest side of the property.
Dickinson is working with an engineering firm to improve traffic flow in the area, City Engineer Shawn Soehren said.