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Published October 15, 2012, 08:56 AM

Williston, Williams County building permits boom

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota oil patch city of Williston is on track to set another record for building permits, and city workers are scrambling to keep up.

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota oil patch city of Williston is on track to set another record for building permits, and city workers are scrambling to keep up.

At the end of September, the city Building Department had approved 856 permits totaling nearly $288 million in construction. That is on pace to break last year's record of 929 permits totaling nearly $358 million.

"Now we're getting bombarded because it's fall and everyone wants to start work before it freezes," Kelly Aberle, the department's office manager and plans examiner, told The Forum newspaper. "It gets overwhelming at times."

The department has seven workers, up from three employees three years ago. Officials plan to add more staff, but space is running out in the office.

Williams County also is seeing a boom in construction. More building inspectors are needed, but finding housing for them is a problem, inspector Jim Horton said.

The county likely will exceed 600 building permits this year, about a 50 percent increase from last year. Horton drove almost 1,000 miles in one week recently to complete building inspections in the county.

"There's only two of us, and we're trying to cover a lot of ground," he said.

Horton projects construction to continue at the current pace for five years. Aberle said the dollar amounts of permits might level off as many major oil companies complete building expansions, but she expects her office to stay busy.

"The way they talk, it sounds like it's continual growth," she said.

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