Divided commission gives go-ahead for crew camp
By Daniel Arens
Tensions rose at the Mercer County Courthouse as the county commission heard a proposal for a man camp north of Beulah while also fielding responses from concerned area residents.
Synergy Building Solutions and Logistics LLC CEO Jack Arbess pitched the case for his company to construct a temporary man camp north of Highway 200 and west of County Road 21, on the property of Gerald Pischel. The camp would house temporary workers coming to help with the construction of the new urea plant for the Dakota Gasification Company.
The county Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approved the camp when Synergy brought their plans before that board, although adding several stipulations that the company would have to meet.
Arbess discussed his company’s history, touting a flawless record of his company’s dealing with law enforcement, and noting that no incident had occurred on any of their facilities so far. Turning to the project, he said that Synergy was looking at a maximum of 33 six-plex buildings, or combos of duplexes and six-plexes.
One concern that P&Z had raised regarded how the facility would handle water treatment. Arbess reiterated to both that board and the county commission that they were working with KLJ Engineering to develop a system, and that the water quality would be tested by an independent North Dakota Department of Health representative.
“We are very good corporate citizens,” Arbess said, saying that one of their recent facilities had received a 100 out of 100 rating.
Arbess asked the county commission to reconsider a P&Z request to place a fence around the facility, claiming that the fence “creates a sort of prison effect” and did not actually contribute to safety procedures. Instead, he touted a multiple-step approach from his company for security, including video surveillance at all times, a radio frequency ID system with ability to audit the card if it falls into hands other than the specific person the card is intended for, a manifest that shows everyone staying in the facility is accounted for, and several protocols.
Alcohol would be allowed at the crew camp, with Arbess noting that it was better for any drinking to occur within the facility rather than in bars in the communities, and that his company had zero tolerance for alcohol-related incidents. However, State’s Attorney Jessica Binder noted that Mercer County protocols do not allow alcohol regardless.