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ND township tables CHS building permit for nitrogen fertilizer plant

SPIRITWOOD, N.D. --The cost of the building permit for the planned CHS Inc. nitrogen fertilizer plant in North Dakota's Spiritwood Township is still unknown. Township officials and residents failed to reach a consensus on the fee during a public ...

SPIRITWOOD, N.D. --The cost of the building permit for the planned CHS Inc. nitrogen fertilizer plant in North Dakota's Spiritwood Township is still unknown. Township officials and residents failed to reach a consensus on the fee during a public hearing and meeting of the township supervisors Monday.

CHS is in the planning stages of a $1.5 billion nitrogen fertilizer facility that would be located about a mile east of the Spiritwood Energy Park. It has asked for a reduction in the township building permit fee from its current level of $1 per $1,000 of construction costs. The actual construction costs of the plant are estimated at $1 billion resulting in a $1 million building permit fee.

Early discussion during the public hearing raised questions about whether the plant should be allowed in the township.

"Do we need the hum of more motors and traffic?" asked George Quigley, township supervisor.

A non-binding show-of-hands vote among the estimated 15 residents and six township officers showed about eight in favor of allowing the plant to proceed and six against, according to Clarence Daniels, chairman of the board of supervisors.

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The discussion moved to the need for road work in the area of the plant.

"These outfits, especially the nitrogen plant, there are some safety issues that make good all-weather roads important," said John Kraft, township resident. "We really need to consider the safety of the community. That is the justification for the large permit fee. We invest it in egress roads."

Kraft said an additional three miles of roads would need to be constructed and 1.5 miles improved in the area of the plant.

Dan Mack, vice president for rail transportation and terminal operations for CHS, said the company was willing to help the township with its concerns.

"Our underlying intent is to not leave the township destitute," he said. "One thing CHS wants is to be a good corporate citizen."

Mack said setting a lower fee would help the project move ahead.

"I would rather look at it as a reasonable building permit now and then look at what we can do to help," he said.

Mike Scott, township supervisor, said he would rather discuss any future road assistance from CHS at the same time reductions to the building permit are on the table.

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The board of supervisors voted unanimously to table the discussion until CHS can prepare a proposal concerning roads and other infrastructures. The board of supervisors' next meeting is scheduled at 8 p.m. Dec. 9 at the old Spiritwood School building. Daniels said a special meeting may be held earlier in order to move the project ahead.

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