ND county lowers $2.6M fine against TX oil company

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Associated Press

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The Williams County Commission has reduced by 99 percent a $2.6 million fine levied against a Texas company operating what the county describes as illegal housing in the western North Dakota oil patch.

The agreement calls for Houston-based Stallion Oilfield Services to pay just $26,000 and to have employees vacate the units by the end of April.

The dispute was over how many housing units were at the company's site. The two parties agreed that the county did not adequately define the term "unit" when granting a permit for the site.

Stallion was approved in 2011 for 25 housing units. The company considered several units connected together to be one unit, but the county disagreed with that method and said Stallion had placed more than twice the approved number of units at the site.

Stallion appealed the fine, leading to the compromise reached this week, the Williston Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1eMGkHv ).

Commission Chairman Dan Kalil said the county was trying to get the company's attention with the large fine, and it worked.

"They made changes. We'll make changes," he said.

It is not the first time Williams County has levied a large fine for a temporary housing violation and then lowered it by 99 percent. The county earlier this month reduced a $1.2 million fine against Top Notch Services to $12,000.

Western North Dakota is experiencing a housing crunch because of an oil boom that has people flocking to the region in search of jobs, leading to a large amount of temporary housing being set up for workers.

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Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com

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