Concern over project location

POWERS LAKE A number of residents in and near Powers Lake are concerned about an oil transport facility proposed to be built on the east side of the city near the lake.

Powers Lake Trading and Transport Company, LLC. is planning to build the facility. Currently, the company is working with the local planning and zoning board.

“It’s too close to the city and there’s just too many things right at that location. I’m not against the facility per se,” said Jake Douts, a lifelong resident of Powers Lake. “If it was five or six miles out of town or at another location but it’s just too close to our school and we’ve got a water facility there, we’ve got a sports complex, our golf course, there’s residential houses there, there’s a campground there and it’s right in one of the main watersheds in our lake. It’s just not a good location for it. I think they could find a much more suitable location than that.”

Douts said he’s also very worried about the truck traffic. “There will only be one way into this facility and the same way they have to come out onto our little two-lane highway. They plan on about 400 trucks a day so that would mean 400 going in and 400 coming back out. That’s either a truck going in or out of there every 1.8 minutes, 24 hours a day. I’m afraid for our traffic and what could happen here with accidents,” he said.

Douts reiterated that his main concern is the location of the facility. “I’m just concerned about the safety of our community being that close to our school and not just the oil itself, but the trucks and the truck traffic and the accidents that are bound to follow.

The city of Powers Lake, located in Burke County, has about 400 people.

Douts and Karin Knudsen, another Powers Lake resident who has lived there for about 10 years, said people need more information about the project. “A lot of people don’t understand it and haven’t heard enough about it but there are a number of people I know that don’t like it,” Douts said.

Douts and Knudsen said the only public meetings held about the transload facility have been the zoning or council meetings, but no public meetings specifically to inform the public about the project have been held.

Kevin Jensen, a consultant for the project who is in Minnesota, said there’s already been two hearings that were open to the public. He said another hearing was scheduled for Aug. 21 and there will be others.

Whether those meetings will be the type residents say they want wasn’t clear.

David Lamb, the project developer in North Dakota, could not be reached for comment.

Knudsen said she and most people who know about the proposed project are not opposed to it but they do not want it in the present location “not so close to the lake, not so close to these intersections and not so close to town.”

Douts added, “I’ve been here my whole life and I’ve been on our ambulance (squad) for 35 years here and I’m just very concerned about what this could do to our community.”

“One other point I’d like to make is we’ve done a lot of work on our lake on our watershed,” Douts said.

“We’ve had a project going here for 15 years, and we’ve had federal grants. We’ve done a lot of work cleaning up our watershed so our water in our lake is getting better all the time. This would be built right in one of our main watersheds,” Douts said. “As one of the members of the Watershed Committee, we don’t like the location because it kind of sets us back from the work that we’ve done and I just don’t think it’s fair to the people that live right next door to this thing that just bought homes right next to it,” Douts said.

“It’s perilously close to the lake. We’ve spent about 15 years trying to get our lake cleaned up and the track in some places is actually over the water,” Knudsen added. “It’s close to a new housing development going in with 13 new houses and the school is right there so that’s going to be dangerous.”

Douts noted that last November more than 60 residents of Baden Township in northwest Ward County voiced their concern at a public hearing with the Ward County Planning Commission about truck traffic at a transload facility proposed for that area. “They got it shut down there. It might not be the same one but it’s the same type of feeling,” Douts said.

“We worry about all those trucks on our little highway here,” Douts said.

He said an oil company has said it plans to drill about 600 wells in that area and will be building new main offices on the west side of Powers Lake. “We’re all for that but we don’t need this other facility here right next door to our town and our school,” he said.