- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - As companies face a Thursday deadline to stop operating oil field crew camps in Williston, one is promising that the fight will continue.

Target Logistics has issued a statement saying the city’s order to close the camps “represents economic protectionism at its worst,” and that a federal lawsuit against the city will continue.

Targets Logistics, Halliburton and Lodging Solutions maintain they’re being treated unfairly. Plaintiffs’ attorney Ben Tymann earlier this month told city commissioners that the city “should not be picking winners and losers” in the housing industry.

Mayor Howard Klug disputed that.

“I’m not picking winners and losers,” he said Monday. “I’ve always said I’m in favor of permanent housing at a reasonable price, and that’s exactly what we have right now.”

City officials maintain the construction of new apartments and hotels has caught up with population growth in the oil patch hub, and temporary worker camps are no longer needed.

Oil industry officials say despite the recent slowdown in the energy industry, some temporary housing is still needed for rotational workers beyond hotels that don’t serve meals and apartments that workers don’t need most of the time.

Target Logistics said it offered compromise solutions to eliminating crew camps and also has invested millions of dollars in its facilities and related infrastructure such as a wastewater treatment system in Tioga.

“Target Logistics is disappointed that the city commissioners of Williston took a hardline approach,” the company said.

The city ordinance setting the Sept. 1 deadline for crew camps to close gives companies two more years to clean up and reclaim the sites. Operators also will be allowed to propose new uses for their facilities, such as hotels. The city could reconsider the decision to eliminate crew camps if there is another housing crunch.

If the oil industry “roars back like before, absolutely we’ll look at it,” Klug said.

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