N.D. County Chooses Man Camps Moratorium
Editor's Note: The following editorial appeared in the Williston (N.D.) Herald.
Of all the impacts of the oil boom — roads, water depots, traffic and higher prices to name a few — one that seems to bother local residents the most is man camps.
Called temporary housing by local government, it is beginning to look like man camps are not so temporary.
Years after the first camp was approved, close to 10,000 beds are available in Williams County. Those beds are typically filled with men and women who are working in the community but have few ties here.
But that may be beginning to change.
After months of meeting behind the scenes, a committee formed to look at man camps came up with a few suggestions. First, no more will be allowed to be built. Second, the existing camps cannot expand.
That’s a good start. While we would all like to see the man camps begin to fade away, they do play an important role in the Williston Basin.
We can’t have thousands of men and women dumped onto the streets with nowhere to go, and despite rapid construction of housing and apartments, there are not enough empty rooms to house that many people.
No matter how uncomfortable people are with the man camps, they do have a role. And right now, that role is still important.
While the committee made a rule that no more beds will be built, that was just the beginning. The committee also made rules that conditional use permits can be issued for a maximum of two years, all camps must provide the county copies of its policies and procedures as well of proof of a security plan, each camp must pay $400 a year per bed and the camps must pass an annual inspection.
All of those rules must be met before a conditional use permit can be issued. And without a permit, the facilities cannot remain open.
In addition, the county’s planning and zoning commission decided to make a push to get rid of RVs and trailers on skids, opting for more permanent structures.
The commission agreed to most of the permit requests, but granted permits for RVs only through Oct. 31 and for skid trailers for one year. After that point, the RVs and ski trailers are supposed to go away.
The idea is the people living in RVs can move into permanent RV parks or the larger man camps.
The result is not the drastic steps many had hoped for but it is a good beginning.