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Guest Commentary: A threat to our bluffs

Fri, Oct 18th, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

Jim Gurley

By Jim Gurley

Hillsdale Township, Winona, MN

An important public hearing is coming up about efforts to take away our bluffland protections adopted by the county just a few years ago. Rural AND city residents need to attend, and instruct the commissioners to vote against the bad proposed changes to our county ordinance.

Winona County Commissioner Steve Jacob, the ringleader of these roll-backs, likes to say he was given a “mandate” by his constituents to do so.

Well, I am a constituent of Mr. Jacob’s and I can tell you that he won our district by just 86 votes -- hardly a mandate, especially for the kind of reckless, radical changes he is proposing for the county.

The sad truth? Steve Jacob’s proposals will benefit one man in particular: Steve Jacob. He owns a string of rental houses along the bluff overlooking Whitewater State Park, and he could expand those houses closer to the bluff if his proposals are adopted.

Jacob strongly opposed holding a public information meeting about his major proposals, and has tried to rush them through as quickly as possible. Why? Is it because he’s afraid of people knowing what these changes are really about?

Mr. Jacob’s amendment would cause erosion on the top and bottom of bluffs, would weaken our model burial-ground ordinance, and make many more houses visible from the valleys below.

Another disappointing member of the county board is Commissioner Wayne Valentine. According to an article in the Winona Post, Mr. Valentine considers you a “threat to the county” if you dare to speak at a public hearing. You’re an especially dangerous threat if you’re “well organized.” And he calls citizens who care about their environment a “special interest.”

Please disregard Mr. Valentine’s increasingly angry and strange rants (it’s long been apparent that he has difficulty with the concept of a participatory democracy). Attend the Winona County Planning Commission open public hearing and let the commissioners know how you feel! Tuesday November 5, at 7 p.m., second-floor county government building, 4th and Main in Winona.

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