- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - Williston’s Building Authority has sharply increased fines for developers who sidestep city ordinances in the interest of speed and convenience.

Many contractors, builders and developers in the rapidly growing oil patch hub have found it easier to pay fines as a cost of business than obtain the necessary permits, Building Director Bill Tracy told the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/106r30u ).

“The fine does need to be a substantial amount,” he said. “There has to be a point at which it’s not comfortable for certain individuals.”

Fines that were in the low hundreds of dollars now reach as high as $1,500, and more serious violations also carry the possibility of a misdemeanor charge and 30 days of jail time. Developers who don’t obtain a permit before starting construction will find their permit fee more than doubled.

Williston is growing rapidly as people from around the country come to the western North Dakota oil patch in search of jobs. It is the nation’s fastest-growing micropolitan area, an entity with between 10,000 and 50,000 people. Williston’s population has doubled since 2010, to an estimated 30,000 people, and the city’s physical size has tripled through annexation.

The heightened penalties should create a strong financial incentive for developers to follow city ordinances, Commissioner Tate Cymbaluk said.

“If you don’t hit them in the checkbook, then they’ll keep doing it,” he said.

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

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