An Open Letter to Members of the South Dakota State Legislature

Dear Legislators:

This year the South Dakota Legislature introduced three bills designed to chill citizens participation in local zoning decisions, make it easier for Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and other conditional uses to get approved, and to remove the Family Farm Act restrictions to corporate ownership of hog operations.

Two of the three bills have either been amended to a better end, or have been pulled. The final bill, however, HB 1201, does more than any other piece of legislation to chill citizen participation in decisions directly affecting their property and quality of life. We do not support any measure that removes or makes more difficult citizen involvement in our government, whether it is through challenging decisions made by counties or by citizen initiative on a state-wide level.

We ask you to reject HB 1201, introduced by Representative Mickelson (R-13) and Senator Cammack (R-29), and ensure decisions about conditional uses are made with the full input of all who are impacted.

The bill lowers the approval threshold for conditional use permits in some boards of adjustment from a supermajority vote to merely a majority of those board members present. It is important to understand that this means large industrial or agricultural operations could be approved by as few as two people. Additionally, the bill is the first step in codifying a conditional use site certification program, one which would completely cut out public participation in the siting, review, and approval of individual conditional use permits even though these decisions can have huge impact on surrounding properties, farms, ranches, and businesses.

We urge you to keep local truly local - and that means decisions need to be with input from the public.

Dakota Rural Action supports family agriculture, and we believe community members should be encouraged to participate in decisions that will affect their water, air, and quality of life.

Please reject this bill and any other legislation designed to limit citizen participation in government,

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

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