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Kim Fundingsland , Minot Daily News , Published August 01 2013

Burlington starting to see effects of ND Bakken boom

MINOT, N.D. – According to the latest census, about 1,100 people live in Burlington. In a few years, the number of residents is expected to triple, perhaps even reach as high as 4,000.

If it happens, and there are many indications it will, it will be a growth rate seldom seen elsewhere in the United States.

While the “Bakken Boom” in the western North Dakota Oil Patch continues to fuel the economy of the state, the surge reaches into fringe communities. Burlington is one of them, situated within the unrivaled oil driven economic triangle stretching from Williston to Dickinson to Minot.

The need for housing, services, shopping, workers and roadways has never been greater. Hotels, apartment complexes and crew camps have sprung up throughout the western part of the state. Roads are constantly under repair or improvement.

The effort to meet the various demands of the furious boom is beginning to show signs of catching up, perhaps even keeping pace. Burlington’s future growth is expected to come not just from those employed in the oil industry, but from others who may wish to experience the benefits of living outside of a larger population center.

One development that has already begun to attract attention is Harvest Heights. Dirt work is well underway east of Burlington. The area will feature 280 single-family lots intermingled in tree covered hills.

“We’re really optimistic. The city of Burlington needs a lot more housing out in this area,” Joel Feist, with Real Builders, of Minot, said.

“Some lots are available now. Water should be done in a matter of a month. Streets will be going in as quickly as possible. There will be houses built here before winter.”

“That whole development has been annexed into the city for city water and sewer services,” said Terry Zeltinger, vice president of DeSour Valley Economic Development. “The school district could be growing. We’re excited about the future out there.”

Jerome Gruenberg, Burlington mayor, cites engineer’s estimates when talking about the potential growth of Burlington. He is not alone in anticipating a boom. The school board has begun to plan for significant growth. If enough people move into Burlington, a new middle school may be necessary. The state is responding by analyzing the need for additional turning lanes and traffic lights on U.S. highway 2 and 52 that serve Burlington.

“We’ve got a lot of things in the works right now,” said Gruenberg. “Everything is in flux right now. We’ve got a lot of things that are going to be happening. A lot of people have rebuilt following the flood and have moved back in. It is a busy community.”

The 197-acre Harvest Heights project is utilizing much of the scenic natural landscape along the hills overlooking a broad valley. The lots begin at the bottom of the hill. Others are terraced above in a well planned community that offers a myriad of spectacular views.

“The nice concept of this is about 35 acres remains as undeveloped space,” explained Feist. “It will be green space with natural trees and foliage that will be undisturbed as much as we possibly can. It should complement the views from the lots, most of which range from 1,200 to 1,500 square feet.”

Amber Alexander, with Real Builders sales and marketing, calls the project “one of a kind” and unique to the region.

“We are trying to bring something different with the views and the sizes of the lots,” said Alexander.

While Harvest Heights is the most visible development in the Burlington area and on schedule to become available to the public yet this year, other development projects are either getting underway with physical construction or are in the planning stages.

A 148-unit apartment complex has been designed and is scheduled to be built along U.S. Highway 2 & 52. The Highlands Ranch project on County Road 10 above the former Speedway Restaurant has been platted by a developer from California. It includes more than 500 lots.

“We’ll also be coming out for bids in a week or two for some Community Development Block Grant low to moderate income homes by Johnson Farm,” said Gruenberg. “In the area zoned commercial where the FEMA park was, next to Harvest Heights, we are looking for some supporting businesses and investors who might be interested in looking at that.”

According to Zeltinger, the Burlington Development Corporation is making plans to develop the area for the benefit of new property owners and the city. Suggestions range from a pizza shop or pub to a clinic or library. Additional ideas that will complement a new influx of residents are certain to surface in the coming months.

“These are good projects that are not going to be dissolved,” said Zeltinger.