Lose local control, and lose a lot

Published 12:29 pm Saturday, February 26, 2011

Local control is one of the hallmarks of democracy, communities determining for themselves what best serves their interests. Local control is what American veterans have fought to protect since our nation’s beginning. Local control provides protection from unwanted developments and serves to preserve a clean environment. Studies show that a clean environment attracts more businesses that bring better paying jobs than polluted environments can. Thus, a clean environment, protected by local control is good for the economy!

Local control is now under attack in the Minnesota Legislature. Two bills currently before our lawmakers would allow bullies, who propose unwanted developments, to force their projects into communities that don’t want them, while citizens’ hands would be tied behind our backs, preventing us from protecting our property values, the economic future of our communities and our environment.

House File bill 389 and its companion Senate File bill 270 undermine local control and township rights by taking away the right of townships to enact interim ordinances once a permit application has been submitted. An interim ordinance allows local government to quickly put a temporary freeze on major developments, giving communities time to evaluate a project and decide if it’s a good fit for them. Communities can be caught off guard by unanticipated proposals and the power to enact ordinances protects property values, quality of life and the economic attractiveness of a community.

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House File bill 1 and Senate File bill 42 allow project proposers to draft their own environmental impact statements, undermining the objectivity of the review process and amount to having the fox guarding the hen house. Both bills allow ethanol facilities to be built before permits are obtained. Citizens can’t build homes without permits, so it makes no sense to allow ethanol plants to be constructed without first obtaining proper permits, due to their potential to drain water resources and to pollute. Senate File bill 42 would also bar local citizens from challenging any proposed project in District Court, forcing citizens to travel to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, thus reducing citizen access to the court system and increasing the cost of challenging projects in court.

The Iowa Legislature took away local control decades ago. As a result Iowa now has some of the most polluted water in our nation. Many Iowa townships have had the extra expense of drilling deep wells to provide water to residents. We don’t want to lose local control in Minnesota and have this happen to us!

Contact legislators and tell them these bills are bad for business and bad for democracy. Minnesota citizens expect and deserve to keep our hard-fought-for rights to local control. Rep. Rich Murray 651-296-8216 Albert Lea; Sen. Dan Sparks 651-296-9248 Austin; Sen. Amy Koch 651-296-5981 Majority Leader; Sen. Thomas Bakk 651-296-8881 Minority Leader; Rep. Kurt Zellers 651-296-5502 Speaker of the House; Rep. Matt Dean 651-296-3018 House Majority Leader; Rep. Paul Thissen 651-296-5375 House Minority Leader.

Art A. Anderson


Freeborn County DFL Party

Albert Lea