Fictitious pigs point out floodplain concerns

BISMARCK -- Concerns from panicked neighbors over a fictitious pig farm in south Bismarck, near Lincoln, caught the attention of city and county officials.

BISMARCK -- Concerns from panicked neighbors over a fictitious pig farm in south Bismarck, near Lincoln, caught the attention of city and county officials.

About a month ago, Brandon Schock started moving dirt on his 47 acres at 2105 66th St. SE in Bismarck. He also placed a sign on his property reading "Pigs Coming Soon."

The sign stirred up buzz and confusion among his neighbors, several of whom called in their concerns to Ray Ziegler, Burleigh County building official.

"About three different neighbors called me up," Ziegler said.

As it turns out, the sign was a joke; Schock said he has no plans of running a hog operation. In fact, his plan is to level the land, put topsoil on it and plant corn this year, maybe alfalfa the next.


“We’re moving a little bit of dirt, but all we’re doing is flattening out an area," said Schock, who also owns Fire Express Transport LLC, a delivery truck service.

“I put that (sign) up because nobody can mind their own business, so I figured if people wanted something to talk about, they could talk about pigs," he said.

After receiving the phone calls, Ziegler said he investigated the farm and dug up a real issue regarding the movement of soil on the property.

"I am concerned about all the earth that’s being moved, and it’s on the fringe of the floodplain area," he said.

Schock said he removed a big hill and gave the dirt to his next-door neighbor. “I guess I broke some rules that I didn’t even know existed,” he said.

Earlier this week, Ziegler sent a violation notice to Schock and Lincoln City Attorney Justin Hagel.

Hagel said he also sent a separate notice to Schock, informing him he was out of compliance with Lincoln municipal code regarding flood damage mitigation.

“There’s two effects that could happen with the floodplain. One is that changing the drainage could cause it to expand the size of what the floodplain would constitute, as well as changing the drainage or changing any characteristics of the property could also cause flooding to more frequently occur," Hagel said.


State law allows cities to enforce floodplain regulations, Hagel said, and Schock was supposed to obtain a permit from the city prior to construction or development within a floodplain area.

“There was no prior approval, and I don’t blame (Schock) for not having any knowledge of that," Hagel said. "But it still is a requirement."

"Once he has that action to correct it and gets permitted to do so, then he can proceed. But until then, he needs to stop his work going forward," Hagel said.

Schock said he planned on getting an engineer to assess his property's proximity to the floodplain.

“Whatever recommendations (the engineer) has in terms of making sure that the property falls back into compliance with the floodplain there, then we would go forward with approval," Hagel said.

Schock surmised the additional paperwork and permitting requirements were imposed on him due to his neighbors’ complaints. Still, he said he plans to get all of the necessary paperwork filled out and hopes he can still get his corn planted for the season.

"If we get shut down, that’s going to affect me planting a crop on it because I’m not going to have time to get anything in, and then it’s just going to be a mess all year," he said.

In that case, he joked, he might "go get get a bunch of pigs" and become a hog farmer after all.

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