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Dust storms have Dickinson residents pleading for help

David Kenjalo's yard in Dickinson, above, has been filling up with dust from Roers Development Inc.'s construction site west of 23rd Avenue West. While Roers has tried to stop wind erosion, Kenjalo said Monday asked the Dickinson City Commission to help him and other residents.

Two residents came to the Dickinson City Commission meeting Tuesday to "plea for help" at Dickinson City Hall, saying dust is drifting from a construction site west of 23rd Avenue West into their yards like a blizzard.

"My entire yard is completely destroyed at this point," David Kenjalo said, who lives near 23rd Avenue West. "When the wind is blowing, it's coming just like the snow would when it is snowing."

Kenjalo and Dustin Stuber said wind has cause the topsoil to erode off the Roers Development Inc construction site. The Fargo-based company plans to use the 80 acres for residential.

City staff are aware of the problem and have been in contact with the company, Commission President Dennis Johnson said. The commission suggested that representatives be asked to attend the next meeting to discuss the issue.

The topsoil is some of the sandiest in Dickinson, City Engineer Shawn Soehren said.

He added Roers said they could handle it, but the city has encouraged them to continue efforts to resolve the issues.

Kenjalo presented pictures he took in the last 10 days to the commission, showing the grass in his yard is barely visible. He has had to throw out personal belongings and claims he would have to spend about $20,000 to fix his yard and replace lost items.

"They are going to be responsible for fixing my yard, and that's going to happen," he said.

Kenjalo said company representative told him the dust was not coming from the site since they had sprayed it with poly membrane, which is made to control dust, five to six weeks ago.

Kenjalo added he couldn't see where else it would come from.

"Roers kind of kid to me that (they) couldn't control an act of God out there," he said. "My response was I didn't have a problem with God before they showed up."

Kenjalo also showed pictures to City Administrator Shawn Kessel in May. Kessel stated these more recent pictures were more "dramatic."

Roers has tried to address the issue, Kenjalo said, adding employees have tried to shovel out the sand in his yard.

"I'm just a little nervous that nothing is going to happen," he said. "Until the problem is fixed, it's not going to stop. The wind is not going to stop blowing out there."

The erosion has presented safety and health issues, Stuber said.

"There's actually days where there are visibility concerns driving," he said. "I can't imagine it's great to be breathing in that for multiple years."

Stuber added dirt covers the street from curve to curve. Drainage from the street goes into the Dickinson Dike, commissioner Carson Steiner said, raising questions about environmental issues.

"We are about a 1-inch rain from an environmental disaster," he said. "That Dickinson Dike is a very popular place. We get a 1-inch rain and we got a problem."

Johnson also lives near the site. He was disappointed the membrane wasn't working.

"That is one thing about North Dakota. The wind does blow. Our spring months are coming up when it typically blows stronger in the spring," he said.

Steiner said he has heard from other people concerned with erosion.

Kenjalo and Stuber suggested Roers be required to seed, cover or build barriers to prevent further erosion. City staff will continue to monitor the problem and keep in contact with Roers.