Letters Taxpayers need to express views

To the editor:

I wanted to send a letter in response to the Plain Talk article on Nov. 19, 1999, and to the number of inquiries I've received, regarding the easement/access road issue on my parent's (Craig and Darlis Myron) property located on the Highway 50 bypass.

I believe I can give some facts which will clarify the issues, and I would like to call attention to an issue which I believe should be of concern to the taxpayers of Vermillion and Clay County.

In relation to a sale of home and property located on the Highway 50 bypass, my parents had requested a re-platting of 1.82 acres of their property. Since this is within the three-mile jurisdiction of the Vermillion Planning Commission (VPC), a recommendation as to whether to approve or disapprove the replatting must be made by the VPC for the Vermillion City Council to accept or deny.

The VPC made their recommendation with a few normal stipulations, but had also included one additional surprising stipulation. On the advice of the city engineer, they stated that they would not recommend approving the new plat unless the landowners agreed to allowing a 50-foot easement to be placed on the frontage property bordering the Highway 50 bypass, in the event that the city would ever in the future desire to place an access road on the north side of the bypass.

What this meant was that the property owner would be forced into giving up all rights to the front 50 feet of property without compensation, if the city ever decided to insert an access road. This access road would also, of course, be at 100 percent cost to the landowner.

It was later indicated by the city engineer and many VPC members that this would now be their recommendation on all properties requesting replatting, resurveys, and possibly even building permits, along the Highway 50 bypass, that of not recommending approval unless the landowner agreed to giving up the rights to a 50-foot property easement.

This action, of course, initially stopped the sale of my parents' home. Giving up the rights to the front 50 feet of property was not desirable to the buyer.

We were allowed to plead our case for dropping the 50-foot easement at the Nov. 15 city council meeting. With research we attempted to show that 1) no previous plans by either the VPC, the city council, the county, or state has ever included placing an access road on the north side of the Highway 50 bypass. 2) No individual or department within state government had required or requested any access roads or easements for access roads on the Highway 50 bypass, as implied by the city engineer. 3) Access roads on residential or agriculturally zoned properties are not common or even possibly precedented in southeastern South Dakota. 4) Legally it was in question as to whether the city of Vermillion could refuse replats, or similar requests, simply because the landowner would not agree to giving up property rights. The city council overrode the VPC's recommendation, and allowed the replat to go through without the 50-foot easement, and subsequently, the sale of the home was executed.

We are very grateful to the city council for their decision and for the generous amount of time they allowed us and the other Highway 50 bypass landowners, to give our opinions and facts.

We do, however, feel that perhaps the most important issues of this event have still been left unresolved. Will our city government use extortion techniques such as denying common rights like replatting, resurveying and building permits, to force landowners into agreeing to give up rights to property without compensation? While I do not wish to put words in people's mouths, I feel it has been clearly indicated to me that Vermillion's city engineer and all six of the VPC members that voted on my parents' replat denial, feel that this is an acceptable manner (and one they will continue to attempt) for city government to obtain property rights.

I, as a taxpayer, am strongly opposed to this type of technique. Granted, the VPC is only a recommending body, but their purpose, I believe, is to hash out the pros and cons for both the city and the landowners, and to provide researched recommendations, so that the city council does not have to completely hash out every issue. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect the city council to accept the VPC's recommendations the majority of the time.

I would not dare to imply that the city council is opposed to or in agreement to the extortive technique described above, but I also feel that no action is being taken to take a stance on this issue. Much attention has been given to whether this type of action is legal, and I hope the city council and city attorney also pursue this issue, but it is my sincere hope that they will spend more time on the fairness of the issue, and whether this is really the way their taxpayers want property rights to be obtained. I realize, and accept, that oftentimes the need for property for the community as a whole is greater than the needs of an individual, and, to me, that is what condemnation (where the landowner is paid fair market value for the property) is for.

It is my sincere hope that the city council will address this issue in the near future. I, as a residential and commercial taxpayer, wish to strongly voice my opposition to city government using extortion techniques, without fair compensation to the land owner, as a means of obtaining property rights. I also hope the other taxpayers of Vermillion and Clay County will express their views on this issue to the members of the Vermillion Planning Commission and the Vermillion City Council so that they may have assistance in coming to a quick and proper stance on this issue. Thank you for listening.

Kevin Myron


Travelers consider themselves fortunate

To the editor:

On Oct. 27, my husband and I were moving south from Canada and, passing your town, had car trouble. My husband started walking for help. Two of your volunteer firemen stopped and came to speak to me. I explained � they left � picked up my husband � taking him directly to the Ford repair shop, and returned � to let me know what was being done. They stayed until the wrecker arrived.

Doug Brunick and Brian Waage deserve and receive our most sincere thanks for going out of their way to help a couple of stranded motorists.

Thank yous go to Vermillion Ford for working on the car as quickly as possible and to Comfort Inn for being so pleasant to a couple of tired, concerned people.

It was a tough way to meet but we were treated pleasantly, fairly, and with real concern for our predicament. We consider ourselves fortunate.

Jean and Stan Robson

Winnipeg Beach,

Manitoba, Canada

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