October 21, 2015

Is a smaller crew camp in the works?

By Kate Johnson

ounty Planing and Zoning met Oct. 15 for its monthly discussion on cases in Mercer County. The meeting adjourned with two public hearings in place for meetings to follow. One brief discussion was for the potential for there to be a smaller crew camp located on County Road 21 northbound. The facilities would sit on 10 acres of land.
Mercer County Land Use Administrator Gary Emter answered the question of “Wouldn’t this be considered a man camp?” was asked by P&Z member Marvin Ballensky, with the response “It wouldn’t fall under ‘man camp’ because he is going to lease the land or purchase it and set this up on a permanent basis; whereas, a man camp is a temporary use permit.”
The potential land is located on Gerald Pischel’s property north of County Road 21 on County Road 17. The allotted amount of land would be 10 acres for lease or purchase from an outside party. There would have to be a zoning change from agricultural to commercial.
If approved, the facility would include eight to 10 modular homes set up with six workers living in each individual home. The facility would not be open to families, just workers. The topic was presented by Emter strictly for P&Z members to digest and think about for the meeting to follow next month.
Ian Zimmerman was present in the meeting to discuss a complaint that had been filed against the number of cattle he had on his land. Being new to the area and a starting out as a rancher, Zimmerman pleaded ignorance, saying they “moved here not knowing it was zoned how it was.” Not looking for the board to make variances, he only wished to be granted an extension or exception to create more time for him to find his cattle a home and to hopefully avoid liquidation.
The area in which Zimmerman resides is in Gramm Acres near the Beulah Airport, which is currently zoned R1. Emter referred to the lots in that area as the county’s first subdivisions, which were grandfathered in. Under the R1 zoning, the allowed number of animals on the lot is two. Zimmerman, along with his neighbors, sits on 20 acres of land. He currently has 65 head of cattle within that 20 acres. Zimmerman, along with his father, understood they had well over the allotted number of animals under the land’s current zoning and were only asking for time.
County Planning and Zoning Board Member Duane Scheurer stated, “The ordinance is what it is, that’s my feeling, my opinion is to follow the ordinance.”
Board Member Rodney Weigum retorted to the “following the ordinance” comment by saying, “We enforce this ordinance on him, then we have to enforce it on all of them,” alluding to the fact there are others in that area with more than their allotted number of animals on their land.


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