Meeting explores work camp impact

Fallon County Planner Desiree Thielen hosted an informational meeting for local business, government and law enforcement regarding the possible impact of the TransCanada contractor camp.

 

Posted April 19, 2013

By Lisa Kilsdonk

Fallon County Planner Desiree Thielen hosted an informational meeting for local business, government and law enforcement regarding the possible impact of the TransCanada contractor camp.

“The numbers and information provided by TransCanada are very preliminary,” stated Thielen, “but it gives us a starting place.”

The first information provided in the information packets distributed at the meeting included a map pinpointing the camp’s location two miles west of Baker on a parcel of land owned by the county.

Despite all the preparation and money spent in anticipation of the camp, the section of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline slated to cross Fallon County is still waiting presidential approval. An early April approval would result in construction beginning in June of 2013, while a fall approval date would push construction to July of 2014.

Thielen did acknowledge that TransCanada has “not yet gone through the zoning application process”.

Part of the delay relates to lack of presidential approval, but another part is tied to the fact that Fallon County at present does not have work force housing zoning laws on the books.

“We are in the process,” Thielen stated. “It is in draft form and is presently being reviewed by our county attorney Rich Batterman.”

Other information provided at the meeting included the measures taken to insure environmental quality relating to water, wastewater, storm water, and solid waste disposal.

Workforce housing requirements also necessitate off street parking at a ratio of one parking space per bed. The camp’s exterior will have visual buffers. “Each structure and unit shall have addresses. Mandatory walk-through for all emergency responders prior to issuance of compliance permit, all utilities placed underground and bonds will be placed for restoration” were some of the requirements listed in the handout provided to attendees.

The handout also listed projected impacts including: roads and parking, increased retail, commercial and industrial sales, increased crime, increased business for service industries, increase in rentals, hotels, motels and permanent and temporary housing, increased medical and psychiatric needs, and public recreation, public services and schools.

The final part of the meeting was opened up to input from those attending. One concern that was discussed centered on affordable housing. “Low to moderate income housing is still an issue. We need it to maintain retail employees in the area,” Thielen stated.

The contractor camp will be an open camp, meaning that its residents will be allowed to come and go at will. Those living in the camp will not be required to use on-site facilities such as laundry.

Thirty-six locals attended the meeting and received information packets.

      



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