First off, I think I could be considered a knowledgeable person of the events of Yankton County but have not been present for the recent tumultuous hearings. Though still on the Planning Commission, I have been deployed to Arizona and California for short-term management of a federal contract.
So, because of my duties to the government, I have been following Yankton news via the Press and Dakotan. Saturday morning, I received numerous calls from people in the Yankton area. “Where are you? When will you be home? We need a voice. Have you read the paper yet today? Can they do this?”
In the last year, some of the greatest division concerning the leadership of the Yankton County Commission has been caused by emergency meetings. In my experience in dealing with local governments now on different issues for around 25 years, I find that if everything is an emergency, then one day when it really is, you will have no constituency. We have had emergency meetings on personnel issues. We have had emergency meetings on CAFOs. We have had emergency meetings on who and how the planning office gets run. We have had emergency meetings on county roads. How’s that working out? I guess we could tax the fifth-wheel campgrounds out of business to recapture the tax dollars we will lose in agriculture.
It is interesting to note that during the full continuing operation of the largest industry in Yankton County during the Super Bowl of that industries season, “Harvest Time,” we call a two-day notice on an emergency meeting that will have direct and substantial consequences on our largest taxpayer. Calling that meeting on two-day notice during the daylight time of harvest, with rain projected over the following weekend, is a sure-fire way to disenfranchise the largest taxpaying industry in Yankton County. With the weather concerns over the last year and projected rain for the weekend and the challenges faced by our friends and families that live off agriculture, the schedulers of this meeting knew damn well that the opposing side would not be able to attend this “emergency meeting” and then later the comments would be, we did not think there was opposition to our draconian measures because nobody attended the meeting.
So, we find issues with a zoning concern that dates back to 2006 about the validity of the zoning ordinance. “(There’s) ex-county commissioners and an ex-Planning Commission chairperson stating that our 2006 zoning ordinance could potentially be invalid and they wanted to build all of these hog barns throughout the (county) without a conditional-use permit and just with a building permit.” (Press & Dakotan, Nov. 16) I might have missed the P&D articles where their law experience and license to practice was identified. That happens when you miss the paper sometimes. On that note alone, how does the chairman of the commission use that line to define “emergency”? I believe that we pay the county attorney to answer questions of legal nature for reasons such as this discussion.
“I like to be a little more proactive, but I’m listening to the county attorney on that,” he said. “I want to protect the safety, health and welfare of the people, and I think it’s better to be proactive than reactive. But these are the laws, unfortunately, that we have to follow,” the chairman said. “Wow” is all I can say to that one.
“These are laws, unfortunately, that we have to follow,” the chairman said. How can you be a leader in one of the top counties in the state and say that it is unfortunate that we have to follow laws?
One of my favorite sayings is: “You just can’t make this stuff up.”
Michael “Moose” Welch is a member of the Yankton County Planning Commission.