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Published May 01, 2009, 12:00 AM

Notebook: Wind easements bill wins final passage in North Dakota Legislature

BISMARCK – A watered-down version of a law meant to protect landowners from being taken advantage of in signing wind tower easements got final passage Thursday.

By: Janell Cole, INFORUM

BISMARCK – A watered-down version of a law meant to protect landowners from being taken advantage of in signing wind tower easements got final passage Thursday.

The House passed House Bill 1509 on Wednesday, and the Senate OK’d it Thursday.

Rep. Duane DeKrey, R-Pettibone, who wanted strong protections for landowners signing easements or leases with wind farm developers, said the final form of the bill was very weak.

“It may not be as strong as it was (earlier), but it is as strong as it is going to get and still pass,” he said.

The bill states that easements can only be confidential if both parties agree, and only after the financial terms have been negotiated. The original bill barred confidential agreements.

Some wind energy companies opposed the stronger bill.

The bill now needs the governor’s signature.

Zoning bill is done

A bill designed to decrease the number of disputes between rural property owners and city zoning laws is done and on its way to the governor for final signature. The issue is known as extra-territorial zoning.

House Bill 1554 creates a way for cities and rural governments – whether townships or counties – to agree on zoning rules in some cases.

Cities will still be able to extend their zoning rules beyond their borders, as they have been allowed to do since the 1970s.

Those under 5,000 population can extend zoning a half-mile, a city between 5,000 and 25,000 can extend its zoning one mile and a city of more than 25,000 can reach two miles and have absolute jurisdiction in those areas.

Under HB 1554, cities are also allowed to go farther out – to one mile, two miles or four miles – but they must share jurisdiction with the rural government for that area. Disputes would go to mediators.

$1.35B road bill passes

House members are praising a new $1.35 billion state transportation budget.

Representatives approved the plan Thursday. It now goes to the governor.

The bill represents an increase of almost 50 percent from current spending levels.

It has emergency aid for local governments to repair roads damaged by flooding and heavy snow.

The bill includes $176 million in federal stimulus aid.

Legislative budget writers put 25 percent of the money from North Dakota’s excise tax on motor vehicle sales into road repairs and construction.

Normally, the money goes into the state general fund and is spent on education, human services and other programs.


Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net

Copyright © 2009 The Forum. All rights reserved. AP contributed to this report.

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