Watford City looks at banning heavy trucks from city streets
By Neal A. Shipman
Watford City’s City Council, at its Aug. 2 meeting, passed the first reading of a new ordinance that could prohibit truck traffic, other than delivery trucks, on all streets within the city limits.
The new ordinance is designed to eliminate heavy truck traffic through residential areas. But according to one Watford City resident, unless truck traffic is eliminated from city streets he predicts that there will be an accident involving a truck and a child.
“Trucks are coming up the hill on 3rd Street SW at a high rate of speed and my concern is that if the drivers are distracted, there is a possibility that a child could be hurt,” stated Delvin Reese, a father of four children. “There are approximately 13 children living along that street and it is only a matter of time before there is an accident.”
According to Reeves, truck drivers are using 3rd Street SW, instead of Main Street, to get to the Cenex station on Main Street for tire repair or to purchase fuel.
The problem with trucks on residential streets is further complicated because city streets are not designed to handle the weight of the trucks and in many cases, the trucks are hauling crude oil or other loads that pose safety concerns.
“What can we do?” questioned Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor. “We can’t say that trucks can’t fill up at Cenex. The trucks don’t have an option.”
The problem, according to Slade Herfindahl, city police chief, is further complicated because of the narrow city streets and with vehicles that are parked along the street.
“What we need is to designate streets that trucks can use to get to and off Main Street,” stated Herfindahl. “That route could be down Main Street and then east on 4th Avenue to the bypass.”
But, according to Sanford, he would prefer not to have trucks on the city’s Main Street.
“Personally, I would like to see no trucks on Main Street,” stated Sanford. “But is that what this ordinance is doing? Is it saying that trucks can’t fill up at Cenex?”
For Justin Voll, councilman, the problem isn’t with farm trucks but with oil field trucks.
“I don’t have a problem with a farmer filling up his grain truck and then going up Main Street,” said Voll. “But I have a problem with a placard truck filling up there and blocking Main Street.”
One solution posed by Councilman Bruce Erickson was to post gross vehicle weight (GVW) limits on city streets.
“If you have GVW limits on residential streets, you will eliminate trucks in those areas,” stated Erickson. “But this is a very messy issue. Tioga, Killdeer and Stanley are all dealing with the same issue.”
In a non-related issue, the city council also approved Roughrider Fund grants for McKenzie Building Center and the McKenzie County Healthcare System. McKenzie Building Center was awarded a $10,000 grant to assist with the expansion of their business and the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems was awarded a $500,000 grant for the construction of a new wellness center.
In addition to the Roughrider Fund grant, the city council also approved $800,000 in city funds towards the project, $500,000 of which will be made available immediately while the remaining $300,000 will be allocated within the next 12 months.
According to Dan Kelly, CEO of the healthcare system, the concept of a new wellness center began two years ago.
“A wellness center is not something that is profitable for the healthcare system,” stated Kelly. “It is something that benefits city and county residents.”
A new wellness center, according to Kelly, would be a big benefit to the community as it would help attract new businesses and families to the area and be able to better meet the needs of its members.
The new wellness center, which would be located on healthcare system property near the Good Shepherd Home, is projected to cost $3.1 million and would include a therapy pool, elevated walking and running track, a large gym, an outpatient physical therapy area and a golf simulator.
“The healthcare system would fund the physical therapy area and private funds would be used to purchase a golf simulator,” stated Kelly.
In addition to the funding that the City of Watford City provided through the Roughrider Fund and city funds, the McKenzie County Commission has also provided $750,000 towards the project.
In other business, the city council:
• Was informed by Chief of Police Slade Herfindahl that during the month of July, the department had responded to 60 calls involving drugs, burglaries and assaults and 400 minor calls.
• Approved a request by Nellie Celander for the city to demolish the house located at 105 5th Ave. NE. A new manufactured home can be placed on the property.
• Approved advertising for sale the trailer house, located at 404 4th Street NW, for sale on bids.
• Approved to accept the highest bids received for the surplus vehicles that were advertised on bids.
• Approved the purchase of a new 2010 JD 544K wheel loader with attachments for a net cost of $25,000 from RDO Equipment Co.
• Approved the first reading on an ordinance amending Chapter VIII Article 19 of the City of Watford City Ordinances Relating to Truck Traffic within the city limits.
• Approved the first reading on an ordinance repealing Article 5, Section 6-525 to Chapter VI of the City of Watford City Regarding Closed or Screened Areas.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance adding Article 7 to Chapter VI of the City of Watford City Ordinances Relating to Outdoor Dining Areas.
• Referred to the Ordinance Committee a proposed ordinance adding Article XV(A) to Chapter XV of the City of Watford City Regarding Campgrounds.
• Approved holding a public hearing on amending Chapter XV of the City of Watford City Zoning Ordinances to Create a New District for Campgrounds.
• Took no action on requests from D & M’s Office and Outlaws’ Bar & Grill for special event permits to sell alcohol on the street during Ribfest.
• Approved raffle permit applications submitted by the W.C.H.S. Close Up Club, the Women of Epiphany, Pheasants Forever and the W.C.H.S. Rodeo Club.
• Authorized the city to dispose of the old dumpsters at the county landfill if Pacific Steel cannot pick them up within the next 30 days.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending Article XII, R-2M to Chapter XV of the City of Watford City Regarding Conditional Uses.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending Article XVII, C-1 to Chapter XV of the City of Watford City Regarding Conditional Uses and to remove Adult Entertainment Centers as a conditional use.
• Approved a variance application submitted by Mike Endrud to allow adding a 24’ X 16’ addition to the east side of his house but not less than 3’ from the north property line with the condition that this addition does not encroach on existing utilities.
• Approved a conditional use application submitted by the City of Watford City for the purpose of allowing a compost site to be located at 200 4th Ave SE.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending Article XXIV of Chapter XV of the City of Watford City Regarding Nonconforming Uses.
• Approved payment of an Energy Impact Office grant of $350.40 to the fire department for fire fighting equipment.
• Reviewed the Pledge of Assets for June 30, 2010.
• Approved sponsoring the restructuring of the CDLF loan for TRJ Enterprises, Inc. to provide for 0 percent interest for seven years with monthly payments of $1,291.09.
•Approved paying $2,638.51 as full payment for services rendered on an invoice submitted by D & D Water Well Service.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Watford City City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7.