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Crew camps get more to find a new purpose

WILLISTON - Crew camps in Williston still have to close on July 1, but now operators may have more time to either find a new purpose for the buildings or remove them and clean up the sites.

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Operators of crew camps like this one in Williston, N.D., would have until May 2018 to remove buildings from the sites under a city ordinance given initial approval on Tuesday. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WILLISTON – Crew camps in Williston still have to close on July 1, but now operators may have more time to either find a new purpose for the buildings or remove them and clean up the sites.

Williston City Commissioners unanimously adopted the first reading of an ordinance Tuesday that requires crew camps to be removed by May 1, 2018, and gives operators until Aug. 1, 2018, to reclaim the sites.

Previously, commissioners set a Sept. 1, 2016, deadline to remove crew camps, but they decided Tuesday to give the oil industry a longer timeframe to decommission the sites.

“That compromise that we’re making with the industry now gives them ample time to either repurpose the property, come up with a different idea for it, or decommission it and remove it,” Mayor Howard Klug said.

The ordinance requires a second reading before it is final.

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Williston and the one-mile area around the city recently had 3,600 workforce housing beds. Some camps remain open, some have closed permanently and some are vacant but owners had hoped to have the option of remaining open when oil prices improve.

If companies choose to repurpose the buildings, they will have to comply with city zoning ordinances, city attorney Jordon Evert said.

Some companies are proposing to turn the facilities into conference and meeting space, while others are looking to move facilities to other locations or seek to have them rezoned as hotels or trailer parks, said Commissioner Deanette Piesik.

“I felt it was important to give companies more time,” said Piesik, who served on a workforce housing committee.

The city’s decision to close crew camps on July 1 met heated opposition from the oil industry. A court case challenging the city’s ordinance is still pending in federal court involving Target Logistics, Lodging Solutions and Halliburton against the city of Williston.

Oil industry representatives have said the cost of removing crew camps will be significant and particularly painful during the slowdown in oil activity.

Halliburton said in court records it estimates it would cost $3 million if the company is required to demolish the Muddy River Lodge.

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Operators of crew camps like this one in Williston, N.D., would have until May 2018 to remove buildings from the sites under a city ordinance given initial approval on Tuesday. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

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