MANNING, N.D. — Dunn County residents who have been fighting for months to have a say in the siting of oil and gas waste landfills have lost another battle.
The group that wears bright orange T-shirts reading “We Are Dunn County” earlier this year unsuccessfully tried to get the County Commission to reinstate an old zoning rule that said landfills couldn’t be approved without the permission of 60 percent of landowners within a half mile of the proposed facility. Commissioners said the rule was changed last year to prevent pitting neighbors against one another.
On Wednesday, the commission rejected a proposal by the group to require a hearing if one was requested by at least 20 percent of landowners within 2 miles of a proposed landfill, and to unanimously vote the project up or down, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
“This is a protest provision. It does not allow a landowner group to bar any conditional use permit,” group attorney Beth Baumstark said.
County officials said the proposal would be cumbersome and illegal under state law.
“A unanimous, or even four-fifths vote, runs afoul of the North Dakota Constitution,” State’s Attorney Pat Merriman said.
The issue of energy waste landfills has been simmering for months in Dunn County, which is in the heart of the western North Dakota oil patch. So far, no energy waste landfills have been approved, though one developer can reapply next month for a facility west of Killdeer.
Group member Mark Kovash said some people are talking about recall commissioners.
“You’re here to represent us, not the oil companies and not the landfill companies,” he said during Wednesday’s meeting. “We get the feeling you’re not on our side.”
Commission Chairman Reinhard Hauck said the opinions of those who aren’t coming to the meetings must also be considered.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com
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