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ND senators pushed for an amendment capping the permit cost increase for Lake Patterson residents, other ND reservoirs

Both houses of Congress passed a bill with an amendment from Sen. John Hoeven that would put a cap on the permit fee increases for homeowners around Lake Patterson.

Sen. Hoeven's bill would cap the cost of the permit for those living around Lake Patterson at 33 percent over five years. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press
Sen. Hoeven's bill would cap the cost of the permit for those living around Lake Patterson at 33 percent over five years. Photo by Ellie Potter/The Dickinson Press

Both houses of Congress passed a bill with an amendment from Sen. John Hoeven that would put a cap on the permit fee increases for homeowners around Lake Patterson.

The House and Senate reconciled their versions of the Water Resources Development Act, with provisions that Hoeven introduced Thursday, and the bill will now go to the White House for signing, according to a press release from Hoeven's office. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp also helped push the provisions in the first successful version of the bill in September, according to a press release from Heitkamp's office.

Earlier this year the Bureau of Reclamation had proposed doubling the cost of fees for the permits for those living around Lake Patterson, Lake Tschida and the Jamestown Reservoir. The bill would limit that increase to no more than a 33 percent increase over the next five years, according to the press release.

"North Dakotans have enjoyed swimming, boating and fishing on the reservoirs for generations, and many have been year-round residents for decades," Hoeven said. "They can now continue to enjoy their homes because they will remain affordable and accessible for decades to come."

Dickinson parks and recreation director James Kramer, said in an email to the Press that the Bureau of Reclamation originally proposed an increase from $2,839 to $6,825, later proposing a three-year phase which would begin by raising the price to $4,154 in 2017. Had this bill not passed, the residents around Lake Patterson were facing a sharp increase in the price of their permits over the next three years, Kramer said.

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He said the legislation would help out landowners around Lake Patterson.

"It allows them to know what their permit fee is going to be for the next five years, so they can plan accordingly," Kramer said. "Obviously their goal and their intent is to purchase their lot, so they still have to try to go down that road and see what type of action they can get from the legislative process to make that happen, but that's their ultimate goal. But this at least gives them an idea of what their permit fee will be, and it won't obviously be the $6,825 that they were fighting."

Residents around the lake own their homes but not the land where they reside, Kramer said. Their goal is to have legislation that would allow them to purchase their lot like any other county resident.

The Dickinson Park Board was alerted of this bill's potential passage on Monday at their meeting, but members will wait until they have more information before voting on the amount they will be billing those residents - whether they will increase the rates gradually over the five years or make the 33 percent increase the first year and then let it remain at that rate for the remaining four years.

The Bureau of Reclamation did not respond to requests for comment by The Press on Monday.

The legislation, if enacted, would also allow homeowners around Lake Tschida to remain on their lots, authorize coal ash recycling and management and allow the Army Corps of Engineers to devise projects to fight ice jams, particularly in the Upper Missouri River Basin, according to the press release.

Hoeven will also host a roundtable discussion in Bismarck Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Central time to discuss the legislation. The discussion will take place at the Elks Lodge in the Beaudoin Room at 900 S. Washington Street and discuss its effect on the three reservoirs.

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1644136+Hoeven, John 2015.JPG
John Hoeven

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