Zoning policy by committee

Zoning policy by committee by David Lias A Tuesday morning hearing on a proposed amendment to a Clay County zoning ordinance was anything but typical.

Approximately 30 people, most involved with farming or ag-businesses, appeared at the hearing and voiced their displeasure with the amendment's contents.

The amendment, if approved in its present form, would add regulations on concentrated animal feeding operations, such as large hog units, and fee schedules.

The county commission was told that future generations of farming in Clay County would be greatly limited, and would, in fact, cease to exist if the amendment were approved.

Tuesday's meeting was the third public hearing the commission has held on the proposed amendment over the course of the past year.

The two previous hearings were attended by a small number of people whose input mainly addressed environmental issues, such as protecting the county's shallow water aquifers.

The farmers attending Tuesday's hearing said they weren't properly informed of past hearings. They didn't appear satisfied when commissioners told them that all public hearings are advertised two weeks in advance in the county's legal newspapers, the Vermillion Plain Talk and the Wakonda Times.

Faced with such strong opposition to the amendment, the

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county commission decided to appoint a committee made up of people concerned with both agricultural and environmental issues.

Jim Heisinger, Jerry Wilson and Cindy Kirkeby were appointed to the body to address the environment.

Agricultural issues will be represented on the committee by Heath Nelson, Jim Petrik and Daryl Madsen.

The committee will also include County Commissioner Jerry Sommervold, County Zoning Board member Paul Bliss and a representative from Clay Rural Water board.

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