In its suit against Rice County, Rice County Land Use Accountability, Inc., is asking for training for County Commissioners, County Planning Commissioners, and County staff. Last night’s meeting demonstrated why this is necessary. At the meeting, the Planning Commission voted to recommend to retroactively change the Comprehensive Plan so that the I-35 Zoning change fits under the plan — after all, zoning changes may only be made if they are consistent with the Comp Plan — and it isn’t now, by the County’s own admission.


Jim Brown, in a rambling whine, said that you change zoning first, then change the Comprehensive Plan to fit. I cannot believe… how does a guy like this get elected? Oh… that’s right… his publicly stated position during the campaign was that on the I-35 development he wanted to “go slow,” yup, that’s how he got elected, he said one thing and does another, in public tell them what they want to hear.

More on this meeting after I get an appeal draft done on that transmission case… Chuck Von Ruden had some excellent comments, Mary Herzog made my day with hers, it was a frustrating meeting, but the people turned out, the cities stood up, Dundas and Faribault’s mayors demonstrated leadership and represented their constituents well (Lee Lansing, where were you?), and Dixon Bond and Scott Davis were superb in stating their concerns. Bill Malecha testified — do they remember that the Forest Town Board was against rezoning? As usual, all the comments, and there were many last night, were against this change. The entire Planning Commission, with their unanimous vote, displayed disregard for the public and cities they are supposed to represent, whose interests they are supposed to protect.



Hot off the press, from the Faribault Daily News:

County changes plan to develop

Friday, August 12, 2005

By Thomas E. Hammell
Daily News Staff Writer

FARIBAULT — The Rice County Planning and Zoning Commission approved Thursday three amendments to the county’s Strategic Development Plan at a public hearing.

The changes are intended to maintain constancy between the county’s comprehensive plan and the Rice County Zoning Ordinance.

The first change was in the wording of the plan to allow for transfer of development rights to occur within a township rather than within a section of a township — allowing the development rights to be transferred over a greater area. The second was to remove village growth zones.

The third and most controversial of the changes was to change the comprehensive plan to reflect zoning changes to land north of Faribault along the Interstate 35 corridor.

Nancy Marth of Erin Township was one of the first area residents to speak at the meeting and she brought up concerns with how the changes were made.

“I, for one, was under the impression that a comprehensive plan was the plan and the ordinance to follow would make that a reality,” she said.

Marth felt that citizens’ concerns weren’t being addressed.

“No wonder people feel that anything they say is a waste of time,” she said.

County Planning and Zoning Director Arlyn Grussing said the change in zoning along the I-35 corridor was likely what brought most residents to the meeting.

“That’s probably why most of the people showed up was for this item,” Grussing said.

Grussing said the reason for the zoning change for 1,200 acres near I-35 from agricultural to highway commercial was to prevent areas of the county from becoming bedroom communities.

“We do have a decreasing amount of tax base coming from commercial industrial,” Grussing said.

He also said that changing the strategic development plan fit the county’s goals in setting it.

“Our attorney said the rezoning was consistent with the plan,” Grussing said.

Carol Overland is the attorney for Rice County Land Use Accountability, a group that has sued the county over environmental issues in the past. Overland said the change in zoning was inconsistent with the plan — and the county’s desire to change it was an admission of that inconsistency.

“What that means is it’s not consistent now and when those changes are made it will be consistent,” she said.

Overland said the board was not representing the wishes of its constituents.

“You need to represent them, that’s what you’re here to do,” she said.

One resident, Dan Soderlund, said he was not in opposition to development philosophically but did raise some concerns about who would pay for it.

“My big concern is who’s going to be stuck with the bill on this thing,” he said.

— Thomas E. Hammell can be reached at 333-3128 or

And here’s a great letter in today’s Faribault Daily News:

Where are we?

8/12/2005 5:00:00 AM

To the editor:

With the recent shenanigans regarding the I-35 zoning fiasco, I found I have had to check my residency to verify I still live in the United States of America. I have spoken to numerous Rice County residents and have not found a single person who supports the I-35 industrial zone.

In addition, it appears the cities of Northfield and Faribault do not support the new commercial zone as it will pull potential corporations from their tax bases and established infrastructures. Who supports this?

I can’t find anyone — yet, the wheels of “progress” continue to grind forward. Although my family doesn’t live in the proposed zone, we live right across the street. I do not look forward to exchanging the beautiful view I currently enjoy with the eyesore of large buildings and the roar of trucks and traffic. I have spent thousands of dollars of my own money doing wetland restoration around Heath Creek at the outlet of Union Lake only to find that just downstream, this beautiful waterway will not be afforded the same protection. How long until the the police state arrives to forcibly remove my neighbors living in the zone through eminent domain? I guess a country that supports the destruction of human life in the womb certainly doesn’t care about the rights of anyone else.

Who is going to pay for this mess? You and I — the already heavily burdened taxpayers of Rice County. Now is the time to stand up against the zoning commisioners and hold them accountable. I hope to see all of my fellow disgruntled neighbors at the upcoming zoning hearing. Let’s restore the democracy that has been stripped from our hands.

Dan Soderlund

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