In North Dakota dorms needed for energy workers

NY Times:
 As much as the drilling rigs that tower over this once placid corner of the prairie, the two communities springing up just outside of town testify to the galloping pace of growth here in oil country.
They are called man camps — temporary housing compounds supporting the overwhelmingly male work force flooding the region in search of refuge from a stormy economy. These two, Capital Lodge and Tioga Lodge, built on opposite sides of a highway, will have up to 3,700 residents, according to current plans.
Confronted with the unusual problem of too many unfilled jobs and not enough empty beds to accommodate the new arrivals, North Dakota embraced the camps — typically made of low-slung, modular dormitory-style buildings — as the imperfect solution to keeping workers rested and oil flowing.
But now, even as the housing shortage worsens, towns like this one are denying new applications for the camps. In many places they have come to embody the danger of growing too big too fast, cluttering formerly idyllic vistas, straining utilities, overburdening emergency services and aggravating relatively novel problems like traffic jams, long lines and higher crime.
The grumbling has escalated despite the huge influx of wealth from the boom, largely because it has become clear that growth is overwhelming capacity. Indeed, local leaders note incredulously that a conference on regional infrastructure took place in Colorado last month because the region lacked the facilities to host its own event.
“We need a little time to catch our breath to figure out what resources we need in place before we keep expanding,” said Ward Heidbreder, city coordinator in nearby Stanley, which has two camps.
In recent weeks, Williams County, where thousands of previously approved camp beds have yet to be built, and Mountrail County, where one-third of the population is living in temporary housing, imposed moratoriums on man camp development. McKenzie County, where the growth had been particularly untamed thanks to the absence of any zoning rules, is even considering breaking with a century of tradition and requiring building permits.
In the Texas Eagle Ford area where there has also been an influx of workers to work on the drill sites, the RV sites are taking up the slack in housing.  The increase in sales tax and property taxes is being used to improve the roads and infrastructure to deal with the growth.  In the meantime the communities are prospering from the growth.  I suspect they are in North Dakota too.

This kind of growth would be possible in other parts of the country and cure much of the unemployment problems if the Democrats would get out of the way of energy production.


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