North Dakota county fights for zoning control over oil and gas development

Dunn County will ask the North Dakota Supreme Court to uphold its authority to apply zoning to oil and gas development.

The county decided to appeal a district court judge’s decision that the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) has sole jurisdiction over an oil waste treatment facility in the county.

The dispute started in 2013, when Environmental Driven Solutions sued the county for denying zoning for storage tanks on property adjacent to the treatment facility. EDS said state law gives NDIC authority that preempts local zoning. In this case, the NDIC had issued a permit for the treatment plant.  The district court agreed, saying that state law gives the commission control over drilling, all operations for oil and gas production, and, since 2013, the disposal of saltwater and oilfield wastes.

The North Dakota Attorney General filed in support of EDS’s case.

The full story is here, courtesy of the Bismark Tribune.

News from North Dakota: Arbitrary and capricious explained, as is N.D. township zoning authority

I’ve seen a couple of articles on the North Dakota Supreme Court case  of Dokter v. Burleigh County Board of Commissioners, discussed here, that suggest this case is causing quite the stir in the Peace Garden State (yes, I looked that up).  As in some other Upper Midwest states, townships have authority to adopt zoning.  Also as in some of these other states, the ability for townships to do so is subject to legislative rules that define the limits of that authority vis-a-vis county authority to do the same.  Prior to the 2015 state legislative session a township that unilaterally relinquished zoning authority to the county could not reclaim that authority.  Under a bill passed this year townships can now do so by mutual agreement with the county commission.

The Dokter case is apparently causing townships to consider this option.  A good article on this, and the “arbitrary and capricious” standard of review for zoning decisions adopted by most state courts (actually all state courts that I am familiar with) can be found here.

News from around North Dakota: Williston P&Z Committee tables $500 million project in the North Dakota oil patch

Stropiq, a Swiss-based real estate company has asked the Williams County Commission (the elected body) to force its Planning and Zoning Committee to make a recommendation on Williston Crossing. a proposed $500 million development on the outskirts of the oil patch hub of Williston, North Dakota.  The project would include 1 million square feet of space for retail, entertainment, office, hotel and housing development.  Stropiq characterizes the development as a regional destination with a water park and other attractions that would draw people from southern Canada, eastern Montana and surrounding areas in North Dakota.

The Williston Planning and Zoning Committee voted to table the proposal in order to study the effects of the development on local resources such as fire protection, utilities, roads, and sewer and water service.

An article from the Williston Herald is here.  US Census Bureau QuickFacts about Williston can be found here.  According to the Census Bureau, the population of Williston grew 41 percent from 2010 to 2013, from 14,787 to 20,850.  How many communities of 15,000 are prepared for 1 million square feet of additional development, let alone cope with the stresses associated with 41 percent population growth in 3 years?  Maybe the the Planning and Zoning Committee is right to get all the facts first on this project before making its recommendation.

News from around North Dakota: Western ND county approves first wind farm

Stark County (Dickinson), a gateway to the northern fracking region, is also promoting renewable energy by approving its first proposed wind farm for 55 turbines.  An article from the Prairie Business Magazine is here.

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