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Slope County Commission passes crew camp ordinance

Slope County doesn't have any crew camps, but that doesn't mean its officials will wait for one to break ground before having a plan.

The Slope County Commission passed its crew camp ordinance Tuesday after its Planning and Zoning Board recommended approval at Tuesday's meeting at the Slope County Courthouse in Amidon.

"I think that other counties found that they should have done it earlier," Amidon Mayor Jerry Erickson said Friday. "We practically had no zoning prior to this. The lesson learned in other counties is a point well-taken for us."

The commission didn't want to control but rather help crew camp companies interested in coming to the area, County Commission Chairman Mike Teske said. It also wanted to make sure the camps had proper access to water and emergency services.

"A few people, myself included, had gone up to Watford City, and you could just tell that they hadn't had zoning in the past," he said. "It seemed like they had crew camps that would spring up out in the middle of nowhere."

One clause in the ordinance requires companies to post a bond for cleanup after they leave the sites, Teske said, adding the commission doesn't want the burdens to be put back on the tax payers. Lodging businesses can expect to pay anywhere from $20,000 to $250,000.

"Who knows if that is going to be enough?" he asked. "You get down the road a few years and we would definitely need more."

Slope County produced about 52,500 barrels of oil in January, less than a half percent of North Dakota's January production. While there hasn't been much oil activity in the county, there has been interest in the small towns.

The county has had one application for a crew camp from Leon Hewson of Amidon, which was put on hold until after the crew camp ordinance was passed, Teske said.

Hewson was unavailable for comment.

Amidon resident Marie Lorge agreed that the county needed an ordinance since people have been interested in living in the area.

"The campground behind our house is full of campers," she said.

Erickson and Lorge said there haven't been any problems with the people staying in the campground. Erickson added they are "good people just trying to work."

"There are people wanting to stay here even if they have to drive a ways to work," Erickson said.