Saturday, August 18, 2007
In the Zone
Mille Lacs News
"Doesn't Steve Bye
have a right to sell his property?" This wasn't a question meant to be
answered. Considering the tone of delivery, it was another bullying tactic
by the mayor of Onamia. I could be wrong, but it felt like he wanted to
guilt me. Instead, it just made me mad. Steve selling to Nexus hurts his
neighbors, (including me), not only emotionally but financially. Is it
therefore still his right to sell?
Don't we all
have a right to sell our property to whomever we choose? In most cases, the
answer to would be "yes, of course." In this case, however, the answer might
If you still
operate under the assumption that America is a free country, you're watching
too much Fox News. I admit, I'm usually the first alto singing in harmony to
the song America The Beautiful. Purple mountains majesty above
fruited plains bring tears of heart-felt patriotism to my eyes. I love this
But this country
isn't totally free. It cannot be. Like any other society, we must adhere to
rules of law. If we didn't, we might have freedom, but we'd also swallow a
large dose of anarchy. Most of our laws were created to protect
the public. Think of the accidents there'd be if there were no stop
signs at intersections. Yikes! What if there were no speed limits? We
need laws. Of course, some laws, especially out-of-date or weird laws should
perhaps be discarded or changed. For example, there is a Minnesota law that
Citizens may not enter Wisconsin
with a chicken on their head.
Do we really need
this law? hmm... Can you imagine some poor chicken-headed schmuck sitting in
a Hudson jail cell awaiting extradition? How embarrassing.
But back to our
discussion about a citizen's right to sell his property. Laws, such as
Zoning Ordinances are in place to protect us, the neighboring
property owners and general public. Zoning goes hand in hand with city
planning to ensure continuity within an area that makes sense both short
term and in the long run. It also keeps city officials in check. Or at least
its supposed to...
The 38 acre
building site which is slated for construction of the new Mille Lacs Academy
was zoned R1. Zoning means that the use of this property has been
limited to the building of a single family dwelling only. The owner is
not free to do what he wants with his property. If the land is sold,
the owner would change but the property would retain its R1 zoning.
The use of the land is controlled by zoning ordinances. Steve
certainly has the right to sell his land to someone who wants to build a
house on it. I wouldn't argue that, not even to the mayor.
knows that this land is being purchased through the city for the Nexus
Corporation. He is in essence selling the land to the company. The city of
Onamia is acting like a middle man to facilitate this deal by purchasing the
property, annexing it, and rezoning it to accommodate the large
sexual offender institution; which does not adhere to the current zoning
ordinances. It's a way for Steve, the City, and Nexus to circumvent the
Don't like the
laws? Ignore them.
Oh yes, land can
be legally rezoned by the city. But according to the city ordinances, it
must not be spot zoned. Spot zoning is when you stick something which is
completely inappropriate or out of character in an area. One example:
putting a stock yard and slaughter house right next to the hospital. Think
they'd go for that? Or how about planting a corn field right downtown in the
business district? Does that make sense? Another example: placing a large
juvenile sex offender correction facility in a residential neighborhood,
next to families with children, elderly folks, and three home day care
centers. Not only does this violate the zoning laws, it's just plain stupid.
ordinances also say that the neighbors must approve. They don't.
But maybe I'm
wrong. Maybe Steve does have the right to sell his land to the city.
Maybe it's the city which doesn't have the right to rezone the
property just so Nexus can buy and build there. Creating a zoning island in
the midst of R1 goes against zoning ordinances. Of course, there are rules
about rezoning too, but the Onamia city council doesn't see fit to follow
annexation meeting on June 13, the mandatory public hearing for rezoning was
scheduled, which is proper procedure. However, between the time of the city
council meeting and the availability of the Minutes, the Bye/Grosslein
property had somehow mysteriously changed from R1 to R2, without going
through proper procedures. The rezoning hearing was also abruptly
cancelled. Of course, maybe it became unnecessary since the council had
already changed the zoning - where - in the back room? At coffee? There
seems to be a lot of that in Onamia. A change of zoning did not (could not)
take place at the public city council meeting on June 13. It seems they
slipped through another one...
Don't like the
laws? Change them.
To finagle the
Bye/Grosslein property deal and make everything legal, the city council will
have to overwrite city ordinances. And for the Nexus Corporation, it appears
they are willing to do so, regardless of how it affects property owners now
or in the future. Do we trust Larry Milton, Bill Hill, Mark Loch, Bob Mickus,
and Jerome Kryzer with the fate of the town? I certainly don't. Of course,
the next bunch of local politicians can probably just change the ordinances
back to sanity, shutting the barn door after the cows have run off.
are in place to protect the land from being abused and misused. If these
laws can be so easily and spontaneously changed at the whim of a few council
members, they are no longer effective at protecting us. We might as well all
put chickens on our heads and catch the bus for Wisconsin. What does it