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Steve Jacob: democratic process alive and well (11/01/2013)
From: Winona County

Commissioner Steve Jacob

The power of your local government is in your hands. The democratic process is alive and well in Winona County. I am so proud and humbled to be elected by the majority in Winona County District 3. I will not forget who elected me and what they asked me to do if they elected me.

Coincidentally, I laid out my plans and intentions on my website SteveJacobForThePeople.com prior to the last election. Recent Letters to the Editor have suggested I didn’t win by enough votes to move forward with the proposed zoning amendments. When I stated my intentions prior to the election, I didn’t preface the statement with “If I win by a landslide,” or “If I win by one vote.” I stated, “If elected, this is what I will do.”

There have also been Letters to the Editor with accusations that I have a conflict of interest in bringing forward the proposed amendments. The letters focus on a few parcels of land I own in Whitewater Township, rather than focusing on the thousands, yes, definitely thousands, of parcels and structures that have been labeled non-conforming by the new zoning ordinance. The recently adopted ordinance states in Chapter 3.2.1 “It is the intent of this section that all non-conformities shall be gradually eliminated”. I can’t help but notice that the authors of these letters almost

seem to be giving up on addressing the contents of the amendments. After all, who wouldn’t want somebody to be able to rebuild their home if it were destroyed by fire? Instead, these people have resorted to attacking the architect of the amendments rather than the content of the amendments. The answer these people seek to their conflict of interest

question is simple. The amendments will affect property I own exactly the same as it will affect the thousands of other properties throughout the county. One of the requirements of running for the position of Commissioner is that you must live in the district you represent. Chances are, a majority of the citizens eligible for the elected position of rural County Commissioner would live on property affected by these amendments. In similar fashion, many past Commissioners have voted on ordinances and Comprehensive Land Use Plans that have affected their own properties.

Opponents claim these amendments represent complete environmental disregard. The opposite is the truth. Rather than throw the entire new ordinance out in an effort to regain property rights, the amendments, through the proposed expanded Rural Heritage District, honor the many environmental protections put in place in the recently adopted ordinance. The proposed amendments accomplish this by exempting only existing structures and the areas immediately around those existing structures from the newly established restrictive overlay districts. At the same time, the amendments maintain all of the newly adopted protections and overlay districts on the vast majority of county land that remains undeveloped, thereby protecting our beautiful landscape for generations to come. This is a great compromise of property rights protection and environmental protection!

I’m proud to represent those who elected me by offering the community these amendments that were drafted by the Winona County Planning Department and reviewed by the County Attorney. Thank you also for the many hours of deliberation and consideration the Winona County Planning Commission spent while fine tuning these amendments. I’m glad to report that all of the amendments were approved by the Planning Commission, with most of the amendments approved with unanimous support.

I’m honored to stand with these local organizations in supporting these amendments:

--Winona County Planning Commission.

--Winona County Farm Bureau.

--Winona Area Chamber of Commerce.

--Winona County Township Officers Association.

--Winona County Amish community.

--The Land Owners of Winona County.

Be sure to come to the Government Center at 7:00 p.m. on November 5, for the final public hearing on these amendments and participate in the democratic process.

Sincerely, your public servant, Commissioner Steve Jacob  


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