31 May 2018

Public Comment on CUP Application Fee in Cherry County

Comments during the public comment period on May 29, 2018 at Cherry County Commissioners meeting. Slight changes to improve syntax have been made. The written word can be so different from what is said! Prepared comments were provided to each commissioner, the county clerk and the newly elected commissioner who will take office in January. Some friends were also shown the text before and after its presentation.

The first thing spoken about was directed at Commissioner Tonya Storer. I was not a guest at the meeting. Neither were others in attendance that were not public officials or employees or company representative.

We were not “guests” as she had referred to four of us – the actual count being five – during an introduction for a morning telephone conference with a health care provider.

My concern with that so wrong attribution happened later after lunch at the Coachlight, when the public comment period started close to 1 p.m., back in the too warm commissioners room. The point being that we are not guests; we were not invited. We came on our own volition and because of our own choice. Upon her initiating the wrong use of language, and in response to her asking what we should be called, the words citizens and residents were suggested, but then it was indicated that there was no need for any term to be used. At least she said that she did not mean any disrespect.

This same point had been made previously at a Planning and Zoning Board meeting. At that time, a dictionary was used to convey the definition of guest and how it did not apply to the many concerned citizens present. The hired woman who had used the terminology in the meeting minutes she prepared, did not subsequently return after this point was strongly indicated.

Prepared Comments

“This is a request that the filing fee for industrial project Conditional Use Permits within Cherry county should be increased to $500 [revised from an initial amount of $250, following a Main Street consultation]. This would include wireless towers, communication towers, solar projects, any wind turbine project and confined animal feeding facilities.

“The current fee of $50 is completely inadequate. The applicant pays a relatively trivial sum and then profits from their construction.

“The county residents have to cover the cost to pay the zoning administrators salary, and they often spend many hours on these projects, often many more than are covered by the $50 fee.

“Also, why should Cherry county residents have to pay to receive what is basically public information. The $500 fee would cover the cost of providing some copies so residents can read and learn about a project for which they many have some concern.

“Also, the applicant should be required to provide a copy of the CUP material in a PDF format so rather than having to make print copies, an electronic copy can be obtained at no cost. There should be no fee for the minute or two it takes to transfer a file from a computer to a zip drive.

“Besides, county resident have to deal with many unwanted aftermaths [of industrial projects] – including visual pollution, loss of dark night skies, destruction of visual landscapes, unwanted bird mortality to collisions with towers, etc., while the companies make profit for business owners which primarily do not live within many miles of a wireless tower, for example.

“There should be no burden on the county budget and its residents because an applicant for any sort of industrial project development in Cherry county places the monetary burden on the county rather than be responsible for what they are imposing within Cherry county.”

Following my comments, the commissioners had no response; then went through subsequent agenda items continued so my statement was entirely ignored.