State House rightly supports fairness for extra-territorial residents

A bill prohibiting cities from charging higher building permit fees in their extra-territorial areas passed the North Dakota House overwhelmingly Wednesday – overwhelming to the tune of a 91-1 vote.

Given the support in the House, it would seem to set up a no-brainer in the North Dakota Senate, although strange things can happen in Bismarck.

The sponsor of the bill is Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot. House Bill 1471 states cities cannot charge more for permit fees in extra-territorial areas than in the corporate city limits. Cities also cannot impose more restrictive regulations in extra-territorial areas under the bill.

The issue arose from Minot.

Patti Eisenzimmer of rural Minot had asked the Minot City Council last year to reconsider building permit fees that are doubled in the extra-territorial area. The city upheld the fees last fall. Minot has extra-territorial zoning jurisdiction in the two miles around its city limits.

Eisenzimmer is on the ethical high ground, despite a reasoned argument from the city about the additional cost of services delivered to extra-territorial areas.

But the ethical high ground is mighty powerful position and the people of this region are nothing if not supportive of ethics and fair play.

Mr. Ruby warrants a tip of the hat for advancing the bill.

Hopefully the Senate will abide fundamental fairness and this issue will be closed by the end of this biennium.