To the Editor:
Pierre Power Grabs
Those who put special interests above the public good never seem to rest, as Pierre’s latest power grabs demonstrate. HB 1238 would overturn the private property right of perpetual conservation easements that conserve land for wildlife habitat or for future generations to enjoy. SB 54 would prohibit local governments from regulating plastic waste. And perhaps worst of all, Gov. Noem’s SB 157 would abolish vital citizen democracy at the county level.
Noem’s bill would designate certain large-scale industrial uses, including CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) as “Special Permitted Uses,” not subject to public notice, a public hearing or public review. The bill would narrowly limit who could challenge such permits, certainly not citizens who hope to protect the waters of the state.
Noem’s bill says that Conditional Uses “shall”—not “may” be approved if the applicant meets specified criteria, or if the zoning bureaucrat says so.
The bill would lower the bar to only a majority vote of county commissioners present to approve CAFOs and other industrial permits. That could mean 2 out of 3 present from a 5-member board.
Anybody who appeals a permit would have to post a substantial bond, and could be held liable for legal expenses of the other party.
These bills have two things in common: They place special interests above the public good. And they tell us that the governor and like-minded politicians think Pierre knows best, that our version of “big government” should overrule local citizens and the decisions that affect them and their neighbors. If you’ve had enough of special interest power grabs, please ask your senators and representatives to cast these bills into the ash bin of history.