Camper ban approved in Mandan
By Brian L. Gray
Mirroring action taken by other town impacted by the oil boom, the Mandan City Commission has given its second and final reading to approve an ordinance that bans living in campers within city limits.
The ordinance will limit the use of camper vehicles and other non-permanent structures for permanent habitation due to health and safety issues.
It will, however, allow the use of living in campers at construction sites. People wishing to live in a camper near a construction site will be allowed to apply for a permit, which will be valid for one month. The applicant must also have the approval of the site’s owner before being given a permit. Permits will cost $200 each month, while violators of the new ordinance will be fined $500 per day.
Mandan Police Chief Dennis Bullinger said Mandan has already experienced a number of people living in campers for extended periods of time, and the city needed to create the ordinance to limit the liberties people have been taking while living in campers.
Bullinger said that portable heating devices, non-standard electrical connections and a lack of approved sanitary facilities all lend themselves to unhealthful, unsanitary and hazardous living conditions, if utilized for extended periods of time. “This is harmful to the health of the inhabitant and the public at large,” he said.
The police department has received complaints of people living in campers, and investigations found that two travel trailers being used for permanent habitation by employees of a local contractor may have been depositing sewage waste into the city storm sewer system.
The department later identified other locations within the city where camper vehicles are being used for permanent human habitation, and were lacking in approved sanitary facilities.
The city of Williston experienced the same issues on a much larger scale, with the arrival of people looking for work in the oil fields. The city passed an ordinance to ban the use of campers, and that ordinance was used as a model in drafting the ordinance for Mandan.