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Associated Press, Published April 17 2013

New city proposed near Williston could help with housing in Oil Patch

WILLISTON, N.D. – A group that helped incorporate a new city in western South Dakota eight years ago might now do the same in western North Dakota’s booming Oil Patch.

Four Front Design and the owners of property north of Williston have presented a plan for Bakken Village to the Williams County Commission, which has set up a task force to look into the possibility. North Dakota’s secretary of state also would have to approve any new city.

“This all grew out of a need to have affordable housing,” said Chuck Neff, attorney for Bakken Village developers. “We know what we’re facing; we know how it is out there.”

Jobs in the oil fields are drawing people to the region from around the country. The Williston micropolitan area – the city of Williston and Williams County – is the fastest-growing micropolitan area in the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released in March. A micropolitan area encompasses a city with a population of 10,000 to 49,999 people.

The Census Bureau estimated the Williston area’s July 2012 population at nearly 27,000, up more than 9 percent over the year. Some local officials believe the actual number of people in the area is even higher, because many are living in temporary housing.

The proposed new incorporated community would help solve a housing crunch in the area and provide other services, Four Front Design President Bryan Vulcan said. Bakken Village would include a school, a downtown shopping area, and a golf course and parks along the Little Muddy River.

Four Front Design has experience helping create a new city. It helped with the development of Summerset, S.D., which incorporated in June 2005 along Interstate 90 between Rapid City and Sturgis.

“Summerset was the first in 60 years to be incorporated” in South Dakota, Vulcan said.

That development did not come without controversy. Supporters of incorporation said it would give residents a voice in issues affecting the community, but opponents feared a rise in taxes. The incorporation passed on a 132-75 vote, and opponents lost a court battle the following year. The 2010 census lists Summerset’s population at about 1,800 people.