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Stark County Commission OK's refinery rezone; $325M facility one step closer to construction

The Stark County Commission approved a request Tuesday by WBI Energy to rezone 274 acres of land between Dickinson and South Heart from agricultural to industrial for the construction of a diesel refinery.

The request was approved last week by the Planning and Zoning Board with a few conditions, said Commissioner Russ Hoff at the Stark County Courthouse.

"The zoning board's recommendation was to approve this, but we did have some conditions we were going to put on," he said. "One of the conditions is that they will have to meet with our road department and road superintendent and have an agreement with him about coming onto the road. The other was, after you receive your permits, have our Stark County state's attorney review those. Any dust control they also must take care of."

The $325 million refinery could be built by MDU Resources Group Inc. and Calumet Refining LLC approximately five miles of southwest of Dickinson, between Dickinson and South Heart.

Public meetings were held in both cities in May for residents to address concerns about the refinery that would operate 24/7 and employ about 100 workers.

John Stumpf, MDU vice president of strategic planning, said he accepted the conditions.

"I think those conditions are fine in respect to the county road," he said. "We have visited with the state highway department and, of course, will try to engage in dialogue with the county superintendent and the state to try and figure out a proper access to the highway from that facility too."

The refinery will also add 50 to 60 outbound trucks carrying fuel on the road daily.

"Our plan is to have our inbound crude oil carried through pipeline primarily," Stumpf said. "There will be crude trucks that have the ability to take crude oil from the tractor trailer transport too, but we don't expect that to be our primary source of crude oil transport."

There will be infrastructure issues to work out this month, including electric power, natural gas supply and rail transport.

"As far as other infrastructure, we'll be working out here this month as well trying to get a solution to a fresh water supply," he said. "We're going to kind of have a water summit that we will involve the county in as well. We'll try to keep the commission informed as things progress."

Commissioner Jay Elkin said he was concerned about the roads in to and out of the site, which he said are not clear on the site map.

Elkin said he would like the county road superintendent to be kept informed about road plans around the proposed refinery.

Stumpf agreed to the request.

"Our current plan is for the access road to parallel the railroad right away," Stumpf said. "Then, we've designed a bridge to go across the Heart River, which would be our primary access. We would hope to have some secondary access further to the west."