RICHARDTON - The City of Richardton’s Planning Commission recommended approval of a Halliburton frack sand plant after tabling it at its last meeting over landowner concerns.

The Richardton City Commission must still approve the project at its Sept. 22 meeting.

Halliburton has requested the rezoning of 300 acres on I-94 to the west of Richardton for a transloading facility and a frack sand plant. The company hopes to be running trucks by June.

At a meeting late last month, landowner Julian Zimmerman accused Halliburton of betrayal after changing initial plans from two years ago in a way that makes more of an impact on his property, to the east of the project site. He implored commissioners to wait on the request to allow him time to meet with a Halliburton representative and discuss alternative possibilities.

Zimmerman and company representatives met in the meantime, and made a compromise that is one of a slew of conditions that came with the rezoning: for the Zimmermans’ benefit, the noisy ladder tracks on the site are to be reduced from 19 to 11 runs, and they would be moved 60 feet farther west than originally planned.

Compared to his testimony at last month’s meeting, Zimmerman’s views had changed Thursday, and said after weeks of emails with project manager Eric Krautheim he felt more support from the company.

“They’re gonna treat me right, I just believe that,” Zimmerman said.

For two hours on Thursday evening, the city planning commissioners and administrators discussed a series of conditions with Halliburton representatives before a unanimous vote to recommend approval.

Another condition limits the use of the ladder tracks from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. except to move railcars from the loop track to ladder tracks to accommodate another train on the loop track.

“And that is to protect residents essentially from what they call noise pollution,” zoning administrator Cheryl Ryan said.

Another condition that’s in flux until the Richardton City Commission meets will limit Halliburton to certain industrial land uses. That would avoid a bait-and-switch in the land use that could leave Richardton stuck with something it hadn’t planned for without a chance for a public hearing.

Planning Commission President Josh Reisenauer said he wanted to make sure that if the land use was proposed to change substantially “that we get a chance to give an input as to the traffic and the potential environmental hazards to the city.”

Before the city commission meeting, Ryan will compile a list of industrial uses allowed and not allowed at the site to allow what’s currently proposed but limit other noisy uses.

Also, in the time leading up to that meeting, Halliburton representatives will organize a possible tour for planning and city commission members at similar facilities in Ross and Williston, or at an identical facility in Windsor, Colo.

Other conditions include a stringent reclamation plan for if Halliburton ever sells the property, and tree berms around certain property lines.

Lymn is a reporter for The Dickinson Press. Contact her at 701-456-1211.