Patterson Lake homeowners will soon be able to buy their land

Sen. John Hoeven, Dickinson Mayor Scott Decker, members of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Dickinson Parks and Recreation Department and the Patterson Lake Homeowners Association gathered at the West River Community Center Tuesday morning to have ...

Senator John Hoeven (official photo)

Sen. John Hoeven, Dickinson Mayor Scott Decker, members of the Bureau of Reclamation, the Dickinson Parks and Recreation Department and the Patterson Lake Homeowners Association gathered at the West River Community Center Tuesday morning to have a roundtable on the next, possibly last steps that remain before lakeside homeowners can at last buy their own land.

"It's a great day. I heard that the legislation passed 93-0 this morning. It is a great thing-we don't get too many 93-0's at the state Legislature," Decker said to open up the roundtable, which was attended by a large group of Patterson Lake homeowners. "Now it's on to the state Senate."

Hoeven had sponsored a piece of federal legislation passed into law this past December that cleared the way for the federal lands around the lake to be transferred from the federal government to the local municipality and ultimately into the hands of the homeowners who live on them. This will impact the 41 cabin lots around Patterson Lake. The area is currently designated as a federally owned public parcel of land, but once the state bill-HB 1338-becomes enacted into law, the ownership of that land will come to the Dickinson Department of Parks and Recreation.

Parks and Rec will work with the Bureau of Reclamation to survey and appraise the land, after which point a price will be determined for homeowners to then purchase their individual lots from the Parks department and have full ownership.

"The intent ... from my drafting the original legislation was that you own the land, you own your home and what you do or don't do with it is up to you," Hoeven said. "That's the American way."


HB 1338 passed the House unanimously and is expected to have no major hurdles in clearing the Senate, according to District 29 Rep. Craig Headland, who joined the roundtable via phone.

"It's a good day for cabin ownership in North Dakota," Headland said.

Clyde Kerner, president of the Homeowners Association, spoke to the serendipity of all the pieces needed for this process-an issue that's persisted for years for the people around Patterson Lake-coming into place and bringing forth the result seen today.

"I just think it's utterly amazing how all this fell into place. The right people and the right time," Kerner said. "It's just really something, how this all worked. Thank you, Senator, you were a huge part of this."

Hoeven praised the collaborative process and collective hard work of all the individuals involved to see this through.

"I wish I could take this kind of model to all the things we work on, replicate it-for flood protection, water systems, it's a great example of giving a little to get a little," Hoeven said.

The timetable that was described at the meeting sees two or three weeks needed for the bill to clear the senate; after that, the Parks department is required to post the job of surveying and appraising the land up for bid, which is a 21-day process.

"Once the land is conveyed to the Park District, the Park District has a few things we have to do.," James Kramer, head of the Dickinson Parks and Recreation department, said. "One: we have to survey 41 individual lots, we need to set legal boundaries on those lots, we need to do an appraisal on all of those individual lots ... it may be a blanket appraisal, we're hoping to where they can give us a cost per square foot and we could apply it to the individual lots so we don't have to do 41 individual appraisals. Once we have the appraisal, the next step is to work with the city ... the zoning on that right now is public land owned by the federal government, it will need to be rezoned."


The time it takes to survey and appraise the land is not knowable at this time, though there was talk of including quick completion time in the listing for the bid. Tom Fisher, with the Homeowners Association, told the homeowners to do their part in determining the exact boundaries of their lots before survey work starts.

"We want homeowners to make sure, with you and your neighbor, that you agree now (on land boundaries) rather than when the surveyors are out there," Fisher said. "We had the idea of giving each homeowner a packet of stakes, you put in your stake and your next-door neighbor puts in his, and ... it'll just be done so the surveyors don't have to come out and meet with 41 individual households."

This would/should be done at the homeowner's soonest convenience, likely when the winter snows are melted, it was said. After the roundtable, Fisher spoke to the excitement of an end to this long process finally in sight.

"I'm very excited with how things are going ... now that we can finally move on with our lives and start improving our homes and taking care of things up there in regards to home ownership," Fisher said. "We've done most of the work and it's been amazing with Senator Hoeven and his staff, how they've worked on it. Since the beginning of this process they've talked about a solution, they have a solution in mind and they finally did come up with an answer."

Hoeven first introduced S. 440 to transfer the Patterson Lake lots in February of 2017. This law specifically transfers 41 cabin lots and additional recreation lands to the Dickinson Parks and Recreation Department. It also transfers a parcel of land, currently being leased, to the North Dakota Game and Fish department. It also directs proceeds exceeding the costs of preparing residential lots for sale to be used for the costs and deferred maintenance of the local dam. The BoR will maintain responsibility over the reservoir and dam.

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