The City of Dickinson and Stark County are working together to add an extra two mile radius to the city, known as the extra-territorial zone or ETZ.
The ETZ expansion primarily targets Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport and Patterson Lake.
Although it sounds like an annexation of the surrounding area, it’s not quite that simple.
“Take your ETZ, which is really a set of rules and regulations on land development and land use outside of your incorporated city limits,” said Stark County Commissioner Neal Messer.
In short, this allows the county and the city to work together when it comes to making decisions on development and use.
A committee overseeing the project was appointed on Oct. 6, and includes a representative from Dickinson Parks and Recreation as well as a representative from the Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport.
It also includes two representatives from the City of Dickinson and two representatives from Stark County.
“[The purpose is] to create a proposed plan that would be then submitted to the Dickinson P and Z for their review, and then they can forward that to the city of Dickinson’s full commission,” said Messer.
A concern within the committee includes the Marathon Wind Energy Project, which originally is under the jurisdiction of the county.
Marathon has a proposed turbine site near Patterson Lake, but under the two-mile ETZ proposal, it would not included in the joint jurisdiction.
Messer said, “If the city would go to the full four-mile jurisdiction, it would pull that refinery into the city’s ETZ. The four mile jurisdiction refers to the North Dakota city zoning regulations.”
The regulations state that a city with 5,000 to 25,000 residents may extend their ETZ by two miles.
According to the Census Bureau, the City of Dickinson has just shy of 23,000 residents within the city limits.
Extending the city’s services leaves those in the agriculture community wondering how it will affect their day to day operations.
“Property that is zoned ag, is zoned ag. It doesn’t make a difference whether it is incorporated in the city limits, the city ETZ or the rural areas of the county,” said Messer
Projects like this have been done in the past, including in the City of Bismarck in 2013.
At the time, the city had just over 63,000 residents, allowing, by zoning regulations, to expand the full four miles outside of the city limits.
Ben Ehreth, community development director for Bismarck, said the private sector may face more risk with joint jurisdiction, however, he also said, “From my observation, the negotiated boundary has seemingly worked well and efficiently from a permitting and review standpoint.”
Committee meetings are to continue as needed until a resolution is achieved.
Messer said that a common misconception is that this will impact the finances of both the city and the county.
He emphasized that this will not impact any citizens taxes.