Man camp next to elementary school to close
By Neal A. Shipman
One year ago no one attended the public hearing when Kirk Wold proposed creating a man camp on his property south of the Watford City Elementary School.
But on Monday, June 6, the Watford City City Council’s chambers was filled with concerned citizens over the extension of a conditional use permit that would allow the man camp to remain in its current location.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” stated Sherry Lervick, Watford City Elementary School principal, who encouraged the council members to revoke the conditional use permit. “It’s my job to look out for my students and my employees.”
To make sure the man camp is free of possible sex offenders living so close to the elementary school was the primary reason that Lervick and others attended the city council’s June 6 meeting to demand that the man camp be closed.
“We don’t know who is living there,” stated Lervick. “Parents don’t feel safe with the man camp there. We have children who come back to the school grounds after school to play on the playground.”
But according to Tammy Wilson, the man camp is well managed with employees on site at all times.
“We have to remember that this is a temporary housing area,” stated Wilson. “I’m over there, and it is very well monitored. I’ve never had a complaint. But I understand your concerns.”
During the hearing, in which a petition with 75 signatures asking for the city to revoke the conditional use permit was presented to the council, other parents spoke freely of their concerns.
“We have a chance to correct a mistake,” stated Nikki Johnsrud, a mother of two elementary school students. “The kids know what’s over there and they are afraid. You need to think long and hard and put our kids’ interests first.”
But to Terry Moe, a representative with Power Fuels which leases 80 percent of the man camp units, the man camp fills a valuable need.
“We have to be careful with this decision,” stated Moe. “The people who live there are not gypsies. As soon as they can afford it, they want to move into more permanent housing and bring their families here.”
Moe agreed with the parents that he doesn’t like to see a man camp in the middle of the city or close to a school, but he also pointed out that the camp is very well managed.
“This is a dry camp,” stated Moe. “In addition to having no alcohol allowed, there is no smoking tolerated at the camp. What am I going to tell my 70 drivers that live there? Do I tell them that they are sexual predators?”
To which Johnsrud replied, “No one is saying they aren’t doing a good job managing the camp. We’re saying, move it someplace else. This was a one-year conditional use permit, and we want it moved away from the school.”
Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor noted that the council is facing a tough decision, but the council has to answer to both sides.
“From what I’ve heard, they are running an exemplary camp,” stated Sanford. “But right now, there is a public outcry to not have it next to the elementary school.”
And according to Sanford, Wold knew that his conditional use permit was for a one-year period and that it would come before a public hearing to be renewed.
“He knew this was a one-year deal when he decided to make his investment,” stated Sanford. “He knew what the financial risks were.”
In revoking the conditional use permit for the man camp, the city council agreed that the facility would be unoccupied before the start of the 2011-2012 school year.
During Monday night’s meeting, discussions was held between bar owners and the city council following three area liquor establishments failing a compliance check conducted by the Watford City Police Department.
“We’re all trying not to serve minors,” stated Angie Pelton, manager of Outlaws’ Bar & Grill. “We don’t know what our solution is so that it doesn’t happen again.”
And according to Slade Herfindahl, Watford City Police chief, compliance checks are one way of helping bars make sure that they are not serving minors.
“Compliance checks are something that every other city in the state is doing,” stated Herfindahl. “How can we as law enforcement hope to keep alcohol from our youth when it is being sold to them in the liquor establishments.”
In addition to conducting compliance checks, Herfindahl also stated that his department has, and will continue, to offer server training classes to businesses that sell alcohol.
“It (the selling of liquor to minors) is happening because of human error,” stated Pelton. “Things happen.”
During Monday’s meeting, the council issued first and second offense notifications to D & M’s Office for serving minors and issued a first offense notification to the Watford City Bar for serving minors. A first offense results in a written warning, while a second offense imposes a $1,000 administrative penalty, plus a one-day suspension of alcoholic beverage license.
In other business, the city council:
• Approved allowing the Homefest Committee to block off streets and to allow alcohol on Main Street and the sidewalks for the Homefest Street dance on June 24 and 25 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. with an alcohol-free area to be provided.
• Was updated by A.J. Mock, NW Director of Senior Citizen Program, on the status of the Bus Barn for McKenzie County Transportation.
• Approved the renewal of liquor and beer licenses and the Sunday alcoholic beverage permits from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 for the American Legion Club; D & M’s Office; Fox Hills Golf & Country Club, Little Missouri Grille, Inc; Long X Bottle Shop; Six Shooter LLP; Marquardt Inc. dba TJ’s Pizza & Suds, and Watford City Bar, Inc.
• Approved a zoning change submitted by Ace in the Hole Construction, LLC to re-zone the E1/2SW1/4SE1/4 of Section 8, Township 150, Range 98, from A-2 to C-1 and a conditional use permit to allow for temporary work force housing.
• Approved the first reading of the Sundeen’s Addition.
• Approved the first reading of annexation request by Michael W. Vannett and approved a conditional use permit for an RV Park at 809 2nd Avenue SW and 901 2nd Avenue SW contingent on the applicant submitting a site plan and drainage plan.
• Approved a conditional use permit submitted by Luke Taylor for temporary work force housing at 1204 4th Avenue NE contingent on the applicant submitting a site plan with adequate drainage and City Planner Moen approving and signing off on the site plan.
• Approved publishing a notice of a public hearing to add a new Municipal Zone.
• Approved the expansion of an existing conditional use permit to allow for additional temporary work force housing issued to Darwin Krabbenhoft at 501 10th Street SE allowing up to two units.
• Approved a zoning change application submitted by Badlands Development to re-zone 30 acres in the N1/2NW1/4, Section 24, Township 150N, Range 99W from the current zone A-1 to R-4.
• Approved a Renaissance Zone application submitted by Konell Rhone located at 609 Park Avenue W.
• Approved the second reading of Ordinance No. 235, which amends Chapter 1, Article 103 of the City of Watford City Ordinances, and creates one voting district for the city.
• Approved the second reading of Ordinance No. 236, which adds Section 2-227 to Article 2 to Chapter II of the City of Watford City Ordinances, and regulates the parking of campers on city streets and alleys.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance adding Section 7-111 to Article I to Chapter XII of the City of Watford City Ordinances, and regulates the keeping of wild animals within the city limits.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance adding Section 4-1601 to Article 16 of Chapter IV of the City of Watford City Ordinances, relating to track out materials.
• Approved setting the bond for the City Auditor.
• Approved the following special alcohol permits: Chaunci Auen and D & M’s Office for the Auen/Mell wedding dance on July 9; Rhonda Leonard and D & M’s Office for the Tweit/Greenhaw wedding dance on July 16; Dustin Newman and D & M’s Office for the Kulseth/Newman wedding dance on July 23; Nathan Wurgler and TJ’s Pizza & Suds for the Norton/Wurgler wedding dance on July 30.
• Approved raffle permit applications for the W.C.H.S. Close Up and the Prairie Rose Quilters.
• Approved renewing the Contract for Collection of City Sales, Use and Gross Receipts Taxes for July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013 between the City of Watford City and the Tax Commissioner of the State of North Dakota.
• Was updated by David Johnson, Advanced Engineering, on the progress of the bid packages for the expansion of the city’s infrastructure into Growth Areas 1 and 2 and the construction of the trunk line to the city’s lagoon. Bids will be opened on June 16 for awarding of the contracts for the construction of the water and sewer expansion.
• Approved task orders with Advanced Engineering for engineering services to expand the city’s water and sewer lines totalling $299,000.
• Approved the mayor’s appointments of Neal Shipman to the Lodging Tax board for a four-year term; Phil Riely to the Pest Control board for a two-year term; Jan Riely to the Pest Control board for a two-year term; and Jesse Lawrence to the Planning Commission board for a five-year term.
• Agreed to have the city attorney review the Abandoned Property and Building Demolition Policy.
• Approved to accept Hiland’s offer of $696 to settle the debt owed by Hettinger to the City of Watford City for materials in return for a lien waiver.
• Approved a Division Order with Newfield Production Company on the Staal 150-99-26-35-1H.
The next meeting of the Watford City City Council will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5.