October 17, 2012

County zoning plan almost done

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

The McKenzie County Building and Planning Department is under way, and according to County Planner Walter Hadley, things are going well.
“We are moving in the right direction and I am excited about where we are,” states Hadley.
According to Hadley, the McKenzie County Planning Board is in the final stages of putting together a comprehensive plan and land use ordinance for McKenzie County.
“The comprehensive plan is our long range plan and goals for the county, it’s where we see ourselves in 10 years and the land use plan is how we enforce those goals,” Hadley states.
Hadley is in the process of coordinating with various cities and townships in the hope of including them in the county’s comprehensive plan. According to Hadley, the more input he can get from other county entities, the better the county can designate areas for industry, residential, agriculture, etc., that are more complimentary to each other.
“We are talking with Watford City about what the development in the county adjacent to Watford City should look like to make sure it provides a good transition with what is going on in the city,” states Hadley.
Additionally, Hadley states that there are 15 organized townships in McKenzie County that he is also trying to work with for the same reason.
“We want to include them in our plan if they want, so they don’t get overwhelmed the same way McKenzie County and Watford City did at the start of the boom,” states Hadley. “If they don’t want our help, we want to respect that. But we are trying to work with them so we will know how to include them in our plans, if they do want help.”
Hadley states that he has offered his building department service to everyone in the county.
According to Hadley, most of the current industrial development is occurring around the McKenzie County Landfill site, south of Watford City along U.S. Highway 85, and in the Fairview area.
“The landfill area makes sense because that will not be an area good for residential or agricultural zoning,” states Hadley. “Fairview is a rail link area and they are looking at expanding their shipping and receiving in an effort to ship more oil and general supplies.”
The area south on Highway 85 continues to be the site of industrial building, so putting more organized industrial developments there also seemed logical at this time.
As far as residential building in McKenzie County, Hadley states that it is scattered throughout the county, mostly to the north, west and south of Watford City. The only residential development in the county to the east of Watford City is the Buffalo Hills subdivision.
For the most part though, according to Hadley, McKenzie County will be zoned for agricultural use.
“We want to keep the agricultural integrity of this county,” states Hadley. “This county is an agricultural county, even though there is oil development. This county has always been agricultural and will continue to be.”
Another development in the McKenzie County Building and Planning Department is the requirement of a building permit for all county building construction.
“As of July 9, we began requiring anyone building in the county to purchase a building permit. So far, it has generated $153,000 in permit fees, which represents $25 million worth of construction and development in the county,” states Hadley. “This is only a fraction of what has been built this year.”
Still, according to Hadley, the fact that the requirement went in halfway through the year and has already generated over $150,000 in fees is good for the county.
“The county’s original plan was to pay for the planning department with the fees generated through development. What has already been collected certainly does that,” states Hadley.
According to Hadley, there are people that are still unaware of the requirement for them to purchase a permit before they build in the county, and some residents that still don’t understand the need for building permits.
“Banks are usually requiring permits now before they will loan money because they want to ensure their money is going where they think it is going,” Hadley states.
Hadley mentioned that anyone who owns over 40 acres of land and wants to construct a building for agricultural or personal use is exempt from a building permit.
Hadley is requesting the various townships in McKenzie County that have not given him their plans for zoning administration to contact him as soon as possible so it can be incorporated into the county plan.
“We are finalizing our plans and we want to make sure and include everyone that wants to be included,” states Hadley.
Anyone with questions about zoning or whether they need a building permit is encouraged to contact the McKenzie County Building and Planning Department at 701-444-3616.