Harmon Lake Residents Take On Industrial Development -- and Win - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Harmon Lake Residents Take On Industrial Development -- and Win

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In 2009, Harmon Lake was filled North of Mandan.  Homes soon flooded the area.  Now, the future of development there is in the hands of the County Commission.  Businesses want to move in -- and homeowners oppose it.

"I do agree that the economy needs light industrial, but you guys as Commissioners have to find the right spots for this kind of stuff," says Pam Beckler, an area resident.

Morton County Commissioners tackle a proposed re-zoning from Agricultural to Limited Industrial of a 102-acre site North of Mandan.  Homeowners are worried about possible environmental damage to nearby Harmon Lake.  While the proposed area is not in sight of the Lake, it is within its watershed.

An engineer for the county acknowledges heavy rainfall within a short time accompanied by a spill could result in contamination.  However, Commissioners say the plan is lawful.  "For all practical purposes this plan fulfills the requirement of State law and Morton County Water Board," says Andy Zachmeier, Morton County Commissioner.  "Whether it's residential developments, whether it's industrial developments or it's agricultural, they all have some impact on the environment," says Karl Rockeman, Engineer, ND Department of Health.

The developer did not specify planned usage, which further fuels resistance.  "We not looking at putting a development in to contaminate," says Dan Masseth, Developer, XL Homes.

"Just about any other usage, except commercial, the potential for run-off is less," says Kelly Savage, resident.  Dr. Dan Little, also an area resident, said, "Let's not forget that they are requesting a zoning change.  It would be entirely different if this was already zoned for their intended purposes."  Ben Moore of Mandan said "I think it's too dangerous to risk this Lake getting contaminated."

Others worried the Commission's decision on this plan paves the way for a flurry of future rezoning.  "What would be the County's plan to prevent this ruling from setting a precedent to buy land zoned as agricultural?" asked Mike Hagerott, also of Mandan.

In the end, the Commission voted against approving the zoning change citing incompatibility with current land use.  The vote was three to two.

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