A recent proposal by the governor has raised some concern in Yankton County about a potential erosion of local control.
During the Black Hills Stock Show last Friday, Gov. Kristi Noem announced that she intends to introduce legislation to streamline processes for rural development.
“Rural development projects are vital to the long-term success of our small towns, communities and the families that keep them strong,” Noem said according to a state news release. “Too often, though, rural development projects are delayed or even killed by cumbersome and unnecessary permitting processes. The bill I am introducing … sets up a fair process that will give developers certainty and predictability for processes. It allows them to cut through red tape and invest in our communities and families for generations to come.”
Yankton County Commissioner Dan Klimisch said that he is waiting on an actual bill to be released, but some of the potential details are raising concerns.
“Until the final bill is presented, we won’t know anything additional,” Klimisch told the Press & Dakotan Monday. “Reading it, it looks like it would be quite a few changes and some that would take quite a bit of local control away from the counties.”
He said proposals could greatly weaken oversight.
“Some of them, there would no longer be hearing requirements for conditional-use permits before the Board of Adjustment,” he said. “That means there would be a real lack of transparency because, without a hearing notification in the paper, individuals who would be affected by these projects may not even know that they’re happening until they’re completed.”
Klimisch said he has not had a chance to express these concerns to the governor since the Friday announcement.
However, the topic of local control was approached during a meeting between the governor and the Yankton Day at the Legislature delegation — which include Klimisch — last Tuesday.
At one point, Noem gave a short preview of her proposal.
“My bill that I’ll be coming with will be tied to zoning and laying out some groundwork on zoning and time frames and making sure we have a regular order process for how we approach these projects, and (it) gives some guidelines for how they’ll be discussed and debated in the future,” she said.
“Do you support local control?’” Klimisch asked the governor at the time.
Noem replied that it comes down to “how people are defining it these days.”
“I think there’s some folks in some areas that have had some outside organizations and people just trying to stop the entire process,” she said. “What needs to be fixed is to truly allow the open debate to happen, to allow the proposals to come forward, to make sure there’s predictability and that there’s a timeframe where a decision is made. I don’t want projects delayed, not happening or quitting because nobody ever made a decision and postponed it for the next year or two years until somebody else left the state or went somewhere else because they weren’t treated to a fair process — that’s really not the message we want to give for South Dakota.”
It was at this point that the delegation’s meeting with the governor ended.
On Monday, Klimisch discussed his plans to introduce a resolution at tonight’s (Tuesday) County Commission meeting in response to the proposed legislation.
“I’m introducing a resolution that supports local control,” he said. “It’s just a general statement, and hopefully the rest of the commission believes in the way that I do that local county government is best run at the local level. It’s more efficient and more responsive to the citizens and the people that are elected in those communities are more invested and they’re better able to meet the challenges of the citizens’ needs on a daily basis.”
He added that it’s important to take a stand affirming local control and its importance.
“Local control is at the bedrock of South Dakota and South Dakota law,” he said. “That’s something we should all be concerned about. Local control is best in county government, city government and the school board. Once it’s taken away in one of those areas, it’s real easy for the state to keep encroaching on local control.”
The County Commission meets tonight (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. in the commission chambers of the Yankton County Government Center.
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