Public needs to wake up
Date posted: August 2, 2013
Re: Riparian amendment
After attending the Sheridan County Planning and Zoning meeting concerning riparian setbacks, I am concerned.
First, there is absolutely no need for this legislation. The miniscule amount of property that will be affected is 1.3 percent. Agriculture operations, the big culprit for stream pollution according to national statistics, are excluded from any regulation.
So those with the very small amount of property regulated will lose their rights to their property without any form of compensation. These people already take care of their property and are non-polluters but they will pay the price for the other 98.7 percent. This proposal should have been stopped before the taxpayers spent $150,000 to try and justify it. It is, to say the least, ludicrous.
Second, the stakeholder meetings and the steering committee makeup had no persons on them that would lose anything. So in their minds it is alright to take the other people’s property as long as they themselves lose nothing. Only one person on the Planning and Zoning Commission Michael Schumacher, was astute and honest enough to understand what it meant to take something that doesn’t belong to you.
The steering committee consisted of Sheridan city residents and one other person not living on the waterways affected.
According to one person’s testimony, a steering committee member’s reason for support was so he didn’t have to look at gazebos and decks while he floated the river. I wonder what he thinks about his fellow steering committee member who installed a dam across Tongue River for his own personal use at significant taxpayer’s expense. One steering committee member is on the Planning and Zoning Commission and voted to approve the amendment. Is this a conflict of interest?
Third, I take exception with Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jeremy Smith who stated that he didn’t see a lot of public opposition to this proposal because of the poor turnout.
I noted that Mr. Smith was not at the packed house Story meeting the night before. I will also note that there were no notices sent to property owners who would lose rights to use their property. The methods of notification were simply inadequate. If this was considered in his justification of voting for approval then I am fearful of his future decisions.
Last, one person testified that future unintended consequences needed to be considered. This step is the beginning of property owners’ rights being abrogated.
Property owners will still have to pay taxes on the affected land. But, since you have no control of the land must they then allow strangers to trespass and fish and hunt?
Can property owners force the county to maintain these riparian areas at taxpayer expense? Since, riparian areas are designed for very specific purposes such as filtering pollutants, control water temperature and controlling stream bank erosion what type of riparian area improvements are need for these affected areas?
Expensive studies may need to be conducted to design the specific riparian area for the specific benefit required. This is more taxpayer expense.
As one gentleman stated at the meeting, we are losing our freedom, small step by small step. Soon you will wonder where it went.