BISMARCK, N.D. – After an all-day hearing that went smoother than expected, the North Dakota State Credit Union Board approved seven field of membership applications under the state’s new restrictive field of membership law. For the most part, both credit unions and the North Dakota Bankers Association, which had raised initial objections to provisions in some of the applications relating to “immediate family” members, accepted the new terms. At issue was a challenge raised by bankers over CUs adding immediate family members in new or merged branches beyond 50 miles. The 2005 law, which went into effect in August, restricted a CU from adding branches beyond 75 miles from its main office. The NDBA, which had suggested a state attorney general’s opinion might be needed to clarify immediate family additions, contended language in the 2005 law applied to an existing 50-mile limit on FOM expansion. Though disappointed in losing immediate family members in one of his applications for mergers, Denton Zubke, president of Dakota West CU of Watford City, said he was not about “to take this to court.” He said Dakota West can cope with the restriction in winning approval for mergers of Heartland Community CU of New England and Mohall CU. Among the applications approved during the Dec. 14 meeting were two for new branches in Wal-Mart stores slated to open in Bismarck. Winning approval for the CU-run branches – a first in North Dakota – was First Community CU of Jamestown. “These are high-traffic areas and will be good for credit unions,” said the state’s CU commissioner, Tim Karsky, who also is chairman of the CU Board. The first facility of First Community in Wal-Mart is set to open in April at a new Supercenter with a second one on the opposite side of town slated for third quarter. -jrubenscut@aol.com