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City will allow oilfield offices and man camps

Two oilfield companies have gained permission to locate temporary structures within the Kenmare city limits.

1/12/11 (Wed)

The Jim Wink property to the east of the junction of
U.S. Highway 52 and Kenmare's Division Street will be the site
for six trailers for a Trinidad Drilling Ltd. worker man camp.


Two trailers to be used as offices for Occidental Oil and Gas
Corporation are already located north of the Modern Woodworks shop.
The trailers have sat vacant, awaiting approval of a special use permit.


By Terry Froseth
Two oilfield companies have gained permission to locate temporary structures within the Kenmare city limits.
Monday, at a second hearing for two special use permits, both permits were approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission with little opposition heard from the public.
One permit, for temporary office trailers, was approved to property owner Shane Harris. He will lease space to Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation for two 12 foot by 64 foot trailers parked north of the Modern Woodworks shop, east of U.S. Highway 52.
The second permit, for temporary housing trailers, was approved to property owner Jim Wink. He will lease space to Trinidad Drilling LTD for six 12 foot by 48 foot trailers to be parked to the east of the junction of U.S. Highway 52 and Kenmare’s Division Street.
Each Special Use Permit was approved for a nine month trial basis. After nine months, the same process of making application, conducting two public hearings, and paying of permit fees in advance will take place if the parties want to continue the permits.
The commission decided on a application fee of $750 for each permit, to cover costs of notice publications, legal fees, engineering fees, and meeting costs. In addition, each trailer will be charged a 25 cent per square foot, per month permit fee. The permit fee will total $3456 for nine months for the Occidental Oil and Gas offices. The fee for the Trinidad Drilling housing trailers will total $7776 for nine months.
City engineer Ryan Ackerman explained that the permit fees were in lieu of property taxes. If the owner were to add to the permanent structures on the property, the value of the structures would be taxed. There are no provisions for taxing temporary structures, however.
By locating the temporary structures within the city, the occupants have the benefits of city services and infrastructure, such as fire protection and streets, and should therefore pay for those benefits, Ackerman said.
Ackerman had initially recommended a permit fee of 35 cents per square foot. After discussion, the commission compromised with 25 cents per square foot.
Gary Grove of Occidental Oil and Gas had questioned the permit fee. Following Ackerman’s explanation of the fee, Grove said, “I think I understand the perspective. You’re right. We want to pay our fair share.”
Grove said his company is spending hundreds of millions on oil development in the area. “[The fee] doesn’t make or break us.”
Prior to the commission’s vote on the permits, Mick Souchuk of Trinidad Drilling informed the commission and others in attendance they currently have 36 workers living in Tioga. They have been in a camp similar to the one planned for Kenmare for two years. “I’ve talked to the sheriff. They have not had any issues. We’ve had no issues,” Souchuk said.
Some of the workers will be driving to the Kenmare man camp with their own vehicles, while others will be transported in a crew transport vehicle. All workers will be transported to the rig location by a company vehicle. Souchuk said there will be 24 workers occupying the Kenmare man camp.
Both Grove and Souchuk said their companies want to connect to local electric power, rather than generating their own power. They also hope to hook into Kenmare water and sewer in the spring, if possible. Until then, they will haul in fresh water and haul out sewage.
Ed Pullen said he would be the man camp’s closest neighbor. He stated it would be better to have them out of town. “Take them out two miles, where they won’t bother anyone.”
Rita St.Croix, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, lives just to the west of the Pullen home. She was the lone dissenting vote on special use permit for the housing trailers. “For 25 years we don’t allow single wide trailers, now we allow in city limits these skid trailers,” she said.
St.Croix said her concern was to keep the city looking good.
Mayor Roger Ness countered, saying single wide trailers are not allowed in residential areas, but this location is commercial zoned with a special use permit.
Earlier in the meeting Ness had also stated the temporary structures will have to abide by existing ordinances, as well, even though specific ordinances for temporary offices and housing don’t currently exist. “We still have ordinances to follow, and they will be followed.”
Prior to the approval of each special use permit, the commission stipulated conditions to be met:
a. the conditional use will not be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, or general welfare;
b. the existing permitted uses in the neighborhood will not in any manner be substantially impaired or diminished by the establishment of the conditional use;
c. the conditional use will not impede the normal and orderly development of the surrounding property for uses permitted in the district;
d. adequate utilities, access roads, drainage and other necessary site improvements have been or are being provided;
e. adequate measures have or will be taken to provide to provide access and exit so designed as to minimize traffic congestion in the public streets; and
f. the conditional use shall conform to all appurtenant regulations to the district in which it is located.
The Kenmare City Council met after the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, where the council approved the planning commission’s actions.
The two oilfield companies can begin work on their respective sites immediately. Occidental Oil and Gas has their office trailers parked at the Modern Woodworks shop already, but they had not hooked into electrical power or used the facility.