Almont officials ban 'man camp' housing

2011-10-10T23:15:00Z Almont officials ban 'man camp' housingBy CHRISTOPHER BJORKE | Bismarck Tribune Bismarck Tribune

Officials in Almont approved an ordinance that would prevent the construction of "man camp" housing, a prospect they say could overwhelm local resources.

City Auditor Lynne Jacobson said the move was prompted by the purchase of a school building and the rumor that its new owner would turn it into dormitory-style housing for workers, something common in oil-producing counties.

"We've just heard rumors, nobody has confirmed with him that this is (his) intent," Jacobson said.

Regardless of the owner's plans, city council members passed an ordinance Monday evening that would prohibit such a development.

Jacobson said the measure bans housing in which "multiple, unrelated individuals share common rooms for purposes of employment outside of Almont."

Council members approved it unanimously.

Jacobson said their fear was that Almont is too small to host a large number of workers.

"We don't have the resources to have all of those people there," she said. "We don't even have a full-time restaurant. They can't eat breakfast there."

The town is home to around 80 people and has no full-time police officer and no businesses that provide laundry, meals or other support services.

"One of our biggest concerns is security," Jacobson said. "The nearest officer is in New Salem," 14 miles away.

The building that prompted the move is a 2,400-square-foot structure that was built around 20 years ago as a school. It consists of four classrooms and two bathrooms, according to Frank Melchior, president of the Almont Rural Fire Protection District.

The fire district became the owner when Almont's school consolidated with New Salem's schools. Melchior said that sale has not been finalized and the deed has not yet been transferred.

The buyer of the building is Terry Lorentzen of Glen Ullin, Jacobson said. Lorentzen did not return two calls before and after the council meeting.

Facilities made to house work crews on a short-term basis, commonly called man camps or crew camps, have met with resistance in oil counties.

Mountrail and Williams counties recently put moratoriums on new crew camps, and Williams County officials approved higher fees for building permits for the housing units.

Jacobson said Almont officials are worried that the strains on infrastructure associated with the oil industry are spreading south and east to Morton County.

"It appears that it's creeping there," she said. "Here it comes."

(Reach reporter Christopher Bjorke at 250-8261 or

Copyright 2015 Bismarck Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. tweety
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    tweety - October 12, 2011 9:52 am
    I think this type of decisions is based on not enough information. People who work in the oilfield are no different than people who work in other industries. But it seems there is a common misconception that their community is going to hell in a handbasket if oilfield people live there. How sad. Most of these people are just regular folk, trying to take care of their family. Counties everywhere are putting up "mancamps not wanted" signs. Just where are these hard working folks supposed to lay their head at night? There isn't enough housing and lodging to take care of the influx of people coming to work in North Dakotas oil fields. They are leaving their homes and families behind, because 1. they cannot sell their house, 2. there is no place for families to live. They are just working hard to take care of their families. Is that any different than what you or I do? So instead of complaining, some companies are taking the opportunity to become part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. One problem... North Dakota is sticking their head in the sand, and saying, we don't want you here. How sad. One common misconception is that these hard working people must be wild, or drug users. Anyone working in the oilfield is in a drug testing program, subject to random tests. They are probably more drug free than the general population of the state,but this ignorant attitude prevails. We have been involved in the oil field since 1978. We are productive members of our community, we serve on school boards, church boards, active members in the community, we are an employer who provide much needed jobs in our small community, don't be so quick to keep talented people out of your state!
  2. kindheart
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    kindheart - October 11, 2011 10:13 pm
    I have been to Almont and find it a wonderful community of people who care about each other. There are no royalty checks...only loyalty checks. It is more important to them to have a community for their families to feel safe in then to bring in people who will stay for a few years and leave and have no actual interest in the community. Families will always be welcome there with open arms there is no doubt. If you don't know what you are talking about sometimes its better if you don't say anything at all.
  3. Marvin51
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    Marvin51 - October 11, 2011 2:21 pm
    I really don't think an ordinance that mentions the employment outside Almont as part of the criteria would stand up in court.

    I would think at least some of the families in Almont that didn't bother with the marriage certificate would be in violation of the ordinance.

    It's obvious what they want to do, but they should rework it and make it correct.

    I wonder if the owner of the school could find a Hutterite colony that wanted to move to the area and rent the school out?

    Anyway, it would make me pretty disgusted if I bought the school to have them change things after the fact so I couldn't use it. Would make me want to just throw a torch in and leave town.
  4. BernieJR
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    BernieJR - October 11, 2011 11:38 am
    Almont doesn't have oil activity around it... There is none of this "royalty checks" that your quick to assume. But with Dickinson being so expensive to live in and hard to find a place to live in, these people are finding it cheaper to rent a cheap place in smaller towns and drive to the oil sites. Gladstone, Richardton, Hebron, Glen Ullin are all starting to have new residents move to town with all the oil activity going on, and this is due to the fact that its much cheaper to live in these towns and drive then it is to find a place in Dickinson. Almont, doesnt have the resources to have a large number of people coming in, Almont restaurant is the bar, which has a small grill in it. They would have to build a restaurant, and then who's going to work there? good luck with that, and the gas station there isnt open for very long hours, its a small store, with 2 pumps... With a town that small you dont have the people to keep these places open, or to work at them... and new people moving in for oil, arent going to work at these places, so the new people moving in isn't really going to help the town grow
  5. RockNDBakken
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    RockNDBakken - October 11, 2011 11:32 am
    If there is NO bar in Almont, there wouldn't be many residents of a man camp anyway.
  6. zuzu22
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    zuzu22 - October 11, 2011 11:06 am
    Legalbeagle as far as I know their is no oil development in Almont ND, no one owning land there is getting a royalty check from oil. So check your facts before making statements. Lot of small towns are affected by oil, causing them to spend money for schools, sewer, water, etc and the towns maybe getting income from surplus residents but they also have to put up with alot also. And most of those residents don't get royalty checks.
  7. Daviol
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    Daviol - October 11, 2011 10:15 am
    BabyT said: "Or maybe that a town of under 100 mostly older people don't have enough kids to support a school?."

    Almont was not always a community of under 100 mostly elderly people and it does not have to stay that way, but it looks like they have chosen to stay that way.

  8. legalbeagle
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    legalbeagle - October 11, 2011 9:38 am
    Glad to see the good old fashion NIMBY is alive and well, perhaps the residents of Almont should donate part of their 'hard earned' royalty checks to the communities willing to put up the oil field workers
  9. BabyT
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    BabyT - October 11, 2011 9:37 am
    Daviol said: "With a few new residents, Almont could have a restaurant. This kind of attitude toward growth is probably what led to the school closing in the first place."

    Or maybe that a town of under 100 mostly older people don't have enough kids to support a school? New Salem is close, its a couple minute bus ride, there is zero reason to have an Almont school.

  10. Daviol
    Report Abuse
    Daviol - October 11, 2011 6:56 am
    With a few new residents, Almont could have a restaurant. This kind of attitude toward growth is probably what led to the school closing in the first place.
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