From: Dale H. Hadler
On October 22, the Winona County Board of Commissioners will consider substantial changes to the 2011 zoning ordinance and irresponsibly weakening bluffland protections and feedlot restrictions, change that would threaten the land, people and overall health and well being of the citizens of Winona and the quality of life for many county residents. These changes are shortsighted and irresponsible, serving the interests of the few at the expense of the many.
These changes also fly in the face of the land use ethics and philosophies of two prominent American advocates for the environment, sustainable agriculture, and a healthy way of life. These thinkers are the late Aldo Leopold of the University of Wisconsin and sustainable farmer Wendell Berry often referred to as the prophet of Kentucky. Leopold’s Land Ethic reminds us that we are part of a larger community that includes the natural world. Mr. Berry’s essay “Solving for Pattern,” from his classic work the “Gift of Good Land,” discusses the importance of thinking about the long term impact of our decisions, especially as they relate to land use and agricultural protection. Berry specifically discusses modern large feedlot confinement systems and the air and water quality issues these systems create and the negative human health and environmental problems these feedlots create. The very systems that would be allowed to expand closer to a landowners neighbor if the proposed changes to the county zoning ordinance prevails.
Winona County has been blessed with a good balance between agriculture, tourism, industry, and education and recreation. The 2011 ordinance, with its feedlot regulations, farmland and bluff protections, maintains this balance. The proposed changes clearly threaten this unique balance benefitting the few at the expense of the many.
These proposed changes are wrong for the people, land and environment of Winona County and should not be approved. This would be what would be best for the community referred to in Leopold’s Land Ethic, a community that all citizens of Winona County are a part of whether they choose to be or not.