Commissioners on Tuesday voted 3-2 to approve an ordinance setting the deadline, after debate about its impact on the energy industry. However, Mayor Howard Klug said he will push for an amendment that could allow some temporary housing.
“It will be at the direction of the mayor, because I made a promise to get it done,” he told The Williston Herald after the meeting.
Some people believe crew camps are unsightly and can increase problems including crime. They also say construction of new apartments and hotels in the oil patch hub has caught up with population growth. A recent report from a consultant concluded that if all crew camps in the city and surrounding Williams County were to close, there would still be a surplus of nearly 1,300 apartments and hotel beds in Williston.
Oil company officials say hotel rooms and apartments in Williston are costly, and they still need temporary housing for seasonal workers. Some crew camp operators have filed written protests against the ordinance, Assistant City Attorney Jordon Evert said.
Commissioner Deanette Piesik proposed restricting crew camps to oil companies providing housing for their own employees; requiring them to reduce housing by half, to about 1,000 beds; and extending the elimination deadline to 2019. The idea drew support, but Evert said it would need to first go through the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I believe we can pass this motion as is, and then start working with the operators that have camps that they are using for their own crews and have a compromise by the second meeting in January,” Klug said. “At that point it gives us the opportunity to bring it back to the Planning and Zoning (Commission) with recommendations from the City Commission.
“The commission would have a chance to go back and rewrite something that would stick around for a lot longer than the date we have,” the mayor said.