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Williston crew camps remain in limbo

WILLISTON, N.D. - Worker housing crew camps will continue to be in limbo in Williston, but the city's mayor said Tuesday he hopes to have a resolution by the end of July.

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Operators of crew camps like this one in Williston, N.D., remain in limbo after a judge's ruling prevents the city from enforcing its temporary housing ordinance. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON, N.D. – Worker housing crew camps will continue to be in limbo in Williston, but the city’s mayor said Tuesday he hopes to have a resolution by the end of July.

The Williston City Commission had set a July 1 deadline for all temporary housing facilities to close, but a federal judge issued an order last week that prevents the city from enforcing it.

The immediate dilemma for the city now is that without the temporary housing ordinance, the existing crew camps in and around Williston are operating with permits that expired last Dec. 31.

The crew camps will be allowed to continue operating without permits until the city commission decides on the next step, commissioners said Tuesday.

Mayor Howard Klug directed the city attorney to draft some new ordinances for commissioners to consider at their July 12 meeting. Klug said he’d like the matter resolved no later than the commission’s last meeting in July.

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Commissioners voted 3-2 last November to phase out temporary housing in Williston. But Target Logistics and Lodging Solutions, which jointly own and operate temporary housing near Williston, challenged the ordinance in court.

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland ruled last week that the crew camp operators are likely to prevail in their argument that the city did not follow its own rules when it approved the ordinance. The challengers say the written protests submitted by crew camp owners required the city to approve the ordinance with a supermajority 4-1 vote.

The judge’s ruling also has changed how the city is proceeding with the deadline for crew camps to be removed. Two weeks ago, commissioners adopted the first reading of an ordinance that would have given camps until 2018 to either find a new purpose for the buildings or remove them and clean up the sites.

Now that deadline remains in limbo also after commissioners denied the second reading of that ordinance on Tuesday. City attorney Jordon Evert recommended that city commissioners deny that ordinance because it was related to the ordinance the judge said could not be enforced.

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