WILLISTON - City leaders in Williston are trying to figure out how to respond to a judge's ruling on crew camps that may have some unintended consequences.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled this week that Williston cannot enforce its ordinance on temporary housing until further notice, a victory for crew camp operators who challenged the city's July 1 ban on worker housing.
But without the ordinance, Williston crew camps are now operating without permits, said city attorney Jordon Evert. All Williston temporary housing permits expired on Dec. 31 and the ordinance that is now considered invalid is what allowed them to continue operating through July 1.
"At this point, they don't have a permit and there's no authorizing ordinance to allow them to continue to operate," Evert said.
Mayor Howard Klug said while he believes the city would be within its rights to close the unpermitted camps, he doesn't plan to take that action.
"Yes, the city probably could do that, but no we're not going to," Klug said.
The Williston City Commission voted 3-2 last November on a temporary housing ordinance that included a July 1 sunset date for camps in and around city limits.
Target Logistics and Lodging Solution, which own and operate more than 1,000 worker housing beds north of Williston, challenged the matter in federal court. Halliburton, which also owns a camp in Williston, joined as a party to the lawsuit.
In granting a preliminary injunction, Hovland ruled that the crew camp operators are likely to prevail in their argument that Williston officials did not properly enact that ordinance.
The crew camp operators argue the city needed a 4-1 supermajority to approve the ordinance because 20 percent of businesses affected submitted protests.
Evert plans to bring the matter before the City Commission on Tuesday to get direction on how to proceed.
"We need to go back and look and see what we need to do to get it right," Klug said.