Monday, February 29, 2016

Why Is The SD State Legislature Considering Making Individual Involvement In Local Zoning Decisions Harder?

Get It?  The People Rule Here
Not The Local Officials
(photo from
     For a state that's chock full of Republicans  and their "get the government out of my way" bias, it doesn't make much sense for the legislature to be considering a bill that will make it much tougher for individuals to involve themselves in local zoning considerations. The South Dakota House of Representatives recently passed HB 1140, a complex revision of how decision-making will be revised to make it more difficult for individuals to challenge local zoning decisions. A Meade County taxpayer contacted me with some complaints about this and after sorting through the legislative language of the bill--which is being heard by a Senate committee today--I have to agree that the process it creates goes against the grain of our state's cultural and political history.  It's a slap at individuals.  
     South Dakota's very motto, "Under God The People Rule," is rebuked by this bill, which effectively alters the motto to "Under God The County Commissioners Rule."  If you take the time to read the bill, you'll find that it restricts, if not altogether removes, the right of taxpayers to appeal decisions made by their elected county officials, and in cases where taxpayers can actually file
I've Fed Plenty Of Cattle Myself
But Locals Had A Say About Our CAFO
(photo from
some sort of appeal, they will now have to cough up $250 in order to get the appeal process started. And this is happening in a state in which "The People" are supposed to rule? 

     Even more abhorrent is the way the legislation renders fictional the built-in bias by our centralized government-hating Republicans.  The state legislature is telling counties and municipalities that it is the ultimate authority on how local decisions will be resolved, which is actually a lot bunk.  Locals know their territories better than outsiders and they should be able to work together to protect themselves from bad actors who, by virtue of holding sway over a limited handful of officials, can ramrod self-serving zoning decisions with little concern about the residents of the area themselves being able to step in and have a say.  
     If this is supposed to be a way to grease the wheels for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to get more easily established in South Dakota, I'd say the legislation is plenty transparent in its motivations.  South Dakotans who care about retaining the power to call their own shots about what sorts of development take place in their own neighborhoods should make it clear that HB 1140 is for the birds.  


  1. I shall warrant the state's motto should be changed to: Missed it by that much.

  2. This measure represents the typical South Dakota battle between those that insist that their ideas of economic development are more important and beneficial to the state than any consideration for maintaining cultural and social integrity in our otherwise rural and peaceful state: to say nothing of the environmental consequences this will have 20 years down the road when all those proponents will have lined their pockets and moved to retirement villages in Arizona where there is already a water shortage and pollution. Given the Iowa experience with this sort of thing, one would think we'd learn from our Sister State's humongous errors and just simply state that there is a better way. We don't!
    This proposal and every other thing like it is another insult to both independent business decision making and the economics of local agriculture. Shouldn't we ask the obvious question? If this sort of thing is good for the State, and the local economy; why hasn't it been done already and why do local governments and many in the farm and ranch business oppose it?
    This writer worked for the bill Sponsor's dad and sadly, from an environmental and natural resource stewardship perspective, the apple fell a very long way from the tree. The current legislature and many of it's republican leaders are trashing individual liberties, local democratic processes, and the environment at the same time.......... Just like they've always done for the years since Janklow......