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Rezoning request raises concerns

I attended the Aug. 5 Burleigh County Commission meeting at which the issue of rezoning land in Menoken Township from agricultural to industrial was considered. I own agricultural land in that township. Although I was pleased with the outcome, no one is naive enough to believe the struggle is over.

Some disturbing facts were revealed.

Perhaps the most astounding revelation was that the county’s comprehensive plan expired in 2005. So evidently we have gone without planning guidelines for eight years. Have there been no efforts to create a new plan? What is guiding our growth?

I would happily be open to a dialogue about what the “greater good” referenced by one commissioner actually means. One would hope it still includes the values of community and the growing of safe, healthful food for generations to come. One would hope it still includes the right of citizens to petition their government in a peaceful, respectful way to preserve their lives, liberty and the pursuit of their happiness with an expectation to be heard. But we could talk about that. Maybe things have changed so much we can’t count on that any more.

We are in the enviable position in this state of being able to act creatively and boldly to sustain and nurture what have always been our core values. In that context, it does not feel good to hear that we “have no choice” but to accept what many feel is inevitable change. Hearing a list of other places in the state in which wind farms, oil rigs, man camps, etc., have been established over the concerns and pleas of local community members does not make it right. Valuing the presumed rights of unnamed “investors” with unspecified “development plans” over the actual lives of people who value their community is not acceptable. We all have a responsibility to “change the things we cannot accept.”

There is much talk about how individuals and local communities should assume responsibility and take action to protect everyone’s well being. Anyone who attended that county commission meeting saw a moving example of democracy. What a terrible, frightening loss if people became so cynical that they gave up on the democratic process. Maintaining the fabric of any community depends on encouraging, supporting and honoring individual and community efforts to preserve and grow what we know is good.