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Lincoln County Commission faces opposition over proposed state penitentiary site

The Lincoln County Commission met Tuesday, Oct. 10 in the Lincoln County Boardroom to rule on items brought before them including

The first order of business was the second reading for an Ordinance of Lincoln County, SD, amending the Revised Zoning Ordinance for Lincoln County by rezoning Tract 2, Slack’s Addition, N1/2 NE1/4, Section 9-T99N- R49W, Dayton Township, from the A-1 Agricultural District to the RR Rural Residential District. The Planning Commission recommended denial. Planning Director, Toby Brown joined the meeting to answer any questions that residents may have.

“This is an application that changes zone of approximately 30.1 acre parcel from the A1 acre cultural district to the RR rural residential district. This property is located at the intersection of 274th and 4th 79th as noted this is in Dayton Township and both of those roads the Township roads subject property is approximately 1.7 miles east of the city of Harrisburg. A comprehensive plan, as you can see, shows this property as agricultural area so no proposed rezone to rural residential according to the future land use map subject property is currently used for agricultural purposes the property was recently purchased by the applicant and with that purchase is one building eligibility that was assigned to the subject parcel and as you can also see there is no adjoining or adjacent land that is like zone to the proposed rezone area,” Brown said.

The applicant, Kara Busch, joined the meeting to give testimony to try for approval.

“Thank you, Toby, for your help and all of this we greatly appreciate it. I am the K and TM my brother is Troy and his wife is Megan and they make up the remainders for the KTM property. I am here representing as a landowner, but I also have 10 years of experience working at a civil engineering firm in Sioux Falls. Troy, Megan and I bought this land with the intention of both of us being able to build our forever homes there. We are not big time developers nor are we trying to make a big profit off of this land. We’re simply trying to build the neighborhood that we are proud to call home,” Busch said.

Commissioner Jim Schmidt asked Commissioner Michael Poppens what the Zoning Board had against the proposed property and why they denied it.

“It doesn’t fall within the comprehensive plan and goals of what are objectives are in the rural areas. It’s not hard surface roads, the land that was purchased only had one eligibility, we’ve looked at many of these requests and we have denied them,” he said.

Motion to approve the rezone by Poppens, second by Joel Arends, motion failed.

Human Resources Director, Traci Humphrey and Lincoln County Benefits Consultant, Sean Arnett joined the meeting to get board action to select 2024 Employee Benefits.

“We received from health partners, a 3.11% increase and I say this every year but I always want to repeat it we’re taking a snapshot in time this will not remain consistent right so up top here we look at your enrollment in the copay plan by coverage tier we’re looking at enrollment. In the HDHP plan by enrollment here so we take that snapshot we say if everything stayed the same for the full 12 months and 2024 at a 3.11 per cent increase the overall cost is a $51,896 increase. We went back to health partners asked for a couple options we were able to negotiate the following two the first is a flat we can bring that to a flat renewal 0 per cent, so no plan design changes no cost changes. The other one which we are recommending is staying with that 3.1 per cent increase however what we were able to do is negotiate a second year rate cap so 2025 of not to exceed trend so 7 percent we’re going to pause which is actually less than trend but they’re going to set it at 7 percent their initial is 9 percent. The reason why that’s being recommended is if I go back to that slide I just talked about the claims although the first six months compared to all last year you’re currently per month is down every month has been trending higher this option here gives you a very favorable renewal at 3.1% but that second year knowing in 2025 it could exceed 7 which will be less than trend,” Arnett said.

The County budgeted at 12 percent for medical increases. Motion by Arends to approve the 3.11 percent increase plan, second by Schmidt. Motion approved.

Humphrey requested board action to approve and authorize the chair to execute the Wellness Service Agreement with Well365 LLC for the period of November 1, 2023, through December 31, 2024.

“This agreement is the same that we’ve seen in previous years. The reason why I’m coming to you rather than bringing it onto consent agenda was to note that we would like to change the contract from instead of from November to October to be January through December that way it runs more concurrent with our current county benefits. Additionally, there was a language change so like I say in the page four of the agreement it lays out the costs there’s the language change from Wellness or from health coaching to Wellness coaching. The reason for that is that Well365 is partnered with us to look at more like mental health coaching as part of our physical health we all know that we’re interconnected beings and one of the biggest feedbacks I’ve gotten from staff is they want more Wellness support and mental health support so Well365 changed their language so that gives us opportunities to help with staff whether they need physical health coaching or mental health coaching otherwise this contract is the same that you guys have approved previously,” Humphrey said.

The increased cost for the year will be $3,500. Currently around 80 staff members participate in biometrics screenings through the company. The annual budget for the Wellness program is $84,240 of that, $36,000 will be used for the Wellness agreement. Motion approved.

Auditor, Sheri Lund requested board action to approve the chair to execute the expenditure of $1,000 to the National Center for Public Land Counties.

“I’m requesting the funds to be taken out of the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund (LATCF) account and after further research I believe if we’re going to do this then the expenditure needs to come out of the general fund account due to not doing a lobbying with the LATCF funds,” she said.

Motion approved.

Kia Broeders joined the public comment portion of the meeting to address the Commission with concerns of the new proposed prison.

“As many of you are probably expecting this morning I’m bringing forth the issue and would very much appreciate the input of our county commissioners in regards to the newly determined Department of Corrections site. I, as a mother of two, have lived on my acreage for the last seven years. We will be approximately 1 mile from this facility. I am in the healthcare field, I’m actually a nurse. I have toured the current facilities, I’m aware of some of the inner workings and my first comments that I would like to bring forward to these commissioners are the facts of safety not only for those of my family and my neighbors but I also am concerned about the staff the prisoners that are within this facility. Twenty minutes from the edge of Sioux Falls is quite a long time when you consider some of the activities that happen within the prison,” said Broeders.

At the Lincoln County Commission’s Board Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

Commissioner Joel Arends requested board action to refer to the Planning Commission for a recommendation to amend the 2009 Revised Zoning Ordinance to provide for the regulation of carbon dioxide pipelines and carbon dioxide production facilities.

“I’ve had an opportunity to visit with some landowners with the pipeline with other stakeholders, legislators, listen to all the planning and zoning Commission meetings, and had an opportunity to watch and listen to the Public Utilities Commission meetings. Some of the reports coming out of there as well as having had an opportunity to read the new FEMSA guidelines as well and as a result of that I directed staff to draw yeah ordinance with regard to setbacks on CO2 pipelines. They’ve come back with a suggested draft and in that draft we’ve settled on a 500 foot setback from habitated properties as well as a 500 foot set back from the pipeline to the habitated property. We’ve also set a 1 mile setback from any municipalities, regardless of size, to the pipeline as well. In the process of drafting the ordinance and hearing from the stakeholders I had an opportunity to speak with the pipeline and I asked the pipeline to make some concessions and express to them some of the concerns the pipeline was open to hearing those concerns, which was good they have agreed here in Lincoln County to move their pipeline route back South by two miles. Essentially, it’s a multi-million dollar concession because they have to all of the money that they gave to pay for easements is going to remain with those people who purchased the easements and they’re going to have to purchase new easements on that land,” Arends said.

Arends would like to get an Ordinance on the books that creates a setback for pipelines in the future.

“My general philosophy on this is that the pipeline needs their regulatory pathway. They need to be able to make it through, but they also have to be subject to reasonable setbacks. I believe a reasonable setback in terms of land use planning is 500 feet because it does not require the use of waivers in order to be able to transmit energy. Just from a public policy point of view we’ve got to defend ethanol cost. If the pipeline is able to make it through, we’re looking at an increase in the corn basis of 19 cents a bushel we’re looking at increased biofuel production of 217 million gallons a year, 77 million bushels of corn demand increase in the future moving on,” he said.

Arends is requesting to put the ordinance before the Planning and Zoning Committee for their recommendation.

Commissioner Tiffani Landeen stated that the request came in late Friday afternoon, and she would like to have more time to read the proposals in their entirety before making a decision. Commissioner Schmidt would like to publicly discuss all the options in an open forum with the Planning and Zoning Board and make a solution that could work for everyone.

Motion tabled.

Public comment was opened up for the residents of Lincoln County to voice their opinion on the Ordinance proposal.

Sara Steever was the first to speak.

“I want to thank you for tabling this and giving us some time to prepare for this. I’m one of the 50 land owners that signed the ordinance that came in on Friday morning and as I drove here today, I went through nine mile Creek and the low spot created by that and the fog that was resting there was very beautiful, but I was also reminded of the place where I live which sits downhill on Beavercreek and the possibility of CO2 once it’s been compressed and then escapes a pipeline how it settles into the low spots of an area. You mentioned earlier that you are all concerned about managing risk, Joel, I believe it that was your your phrase I’m also concerned about managing risk for my family and I won’t use the S word but I will use the R word which is risk so we look forward to actually working with you thank you for giving us some extra time on this and that’s all I have to say thank you very much thank you,” she said.

Another individual spoke on the topic.

“I believe things being said by the commissioner are fictitious and hypothetical there’s no permit in Lincoln County. There are all these things saying about extra money $0.19 a bushel, I mean I could say if we put a wind generator in front of the microphones from the commissioners we can pay part of the power of the lights but we don’t have any facts behind this and so you need to start recognizing the development of all of Lincoln County and if you’re only going to give somebody 500 feet on a plan of land, you better just tax them at 500 feet on an entire section or quarter. The next thing is this used to be the Wild West where they come in and they say if you pass this, we’re going to sue you, we’re going to sue you. The PUC came down with some pretty new things and I encouraged the board to reach out to the citizens and the people to try to come up with a good setback and some good standards and I will be glad to help thank you thank you,” he said.

Another unidentified individual voiced their opinion.

“I didn’t plan to speak this morning but after sitting there I thought I should get up. I testified at the hearing at the PUC and the navigator hearing and obviously when we read what came down from that the PUC, they recognize the ordinances that were put in place by the counties which were very thankful for Moody and Minnehaha doing that and so now that we have that green light. I think this is great to table this today to take some time to hear more input, there are things that are constantly changing with this whole narrative, you know, I heard today the corn prices and all of that but there are alternatives to the CO2 pipelines there is the companies that are coming in that will convert ethanol to methanol so there are those kinds of things. There’s also concerns that are coming out just last night I heard that there was a discussion at Kansas State about the jet fuel and problems and all those kinds of things so these things have not been completely vetted but so let’s take our time let’s take a breath and we do appreciate and if you guys would look at a reasonable ordinance at some point in the future thank you thank you,” she said.

Scott Montgomery voiced his opinion next.

“I am just going to encourage you to table this I don’t think there’s anything we need to rush into. I learned dimensions of foreign influence on this, I’ll just leave it as that, but I want to remind this Commission there’s foreign influence in these pipeline ownership that’s the main thing we gotta remember here. There is foreign owners of this proposed pipeline I don’t think the pipeline companies have been honest with any of us, I don’t think we ought to take them at their word and what the presenting now I don’t think 500 feet is anywhere close enough so I would suggest we all get together and put our heads together and do the best we can to protect the citizens of Lincoln County thank you very much thank you,” Montgomery said.

Betty Otten stepped up to the podium.

“Yay I say that this is a huge conflict of interest for commissioner Arends to even bring this resolution as he’s already said that he was working with the pipelines to bring this on the PUC. On September 6th, the minutes towards the very bottom commissioner Chris Nelson move to deny the applicants motion to preempt county ordinances and that motion carried three to zero which was already brought up by commissioner Arends, in my humble opinion, because the PUC denied both Navigator and some at the right to preempt county ordinances was already stated this resolution presented by commissioner Arends in conjunction with summit. Dan leaderman has already said that it will be introduced to prevent higher setbacks greater than the 500 feet summit has publicly stated it will bring back its plan to the PUC and is working overtime to get these types of county resolutions passed ahead of time. It’s no surprise that commissioner Arends is behind the scenes to pipeline resolution but what is surprising is the use of the Commission position to bring this resolution with the 154 applications to preempt going through the regular channels of great concern is the 500 foot setback from a single family dwelling, church, school, nursing home, hospital, business, or public park from the pipeline to the closest point of the building, not from the lot line this is just an incredible and unreasonable setback. There have been two previous CO2 pipeline resolutions which cost that person $345 per resolution on which the Commission denied so now commissioner Arends gets to use his commissioner position to bypass the PNC fee and to get this resolution fast tracked again. I will remind you that commissioner Arends has already stated that he has a conflict of interest and he shouldn’t be able to just fast track this. In fact, the very first pipeline filing brought by Tony Ventura had him jumping through hoops but was finally passed it unanimously by 5 to 0, then low and behold in this very room with no agenda it was passed sat Dan Lederman and commissioner Arends asked for an executive session and came forward to send it back to PNC because the opposition needed to have a voice, well really the PNC meeting at that particular time that they passed it unanimously was illegally called public meeting and they decided not to come thank you thank you for that,” Otten said.

Linda Montgomery voiced her concerns to the Commission.

“I appreciate the initial motion to table this and I desperately hope that you do. The other thing that I want is more discussion or during the discussion, when it goes planning and zoning, we have to know the plume studies. One of the motions or one of the ordinances out there is using the plume study from navigator and that’s a much smaller pipe then Summit. I think we have to I know some of this. It is big in this area we need to know the plume study before we can really look at these ordinances and I just I hope that that’s move forward and something that is requested by this commission thank you thank you,” she said.

Commissioner Landeen wanted to address some of the concerns brought up through the public comment, she opened the floor up to Arends to respond to Otten’s comments regarding him.

“Thank you Madam Chair, so staff worked on first draft of the ordinance three weeks ago and then I provided my draft to them last week Friday. With regard to Miss Otten’s comments, I don’t know where to start but with regard to her claim that I have previously said I have a conflict of interest, it’s just not true I’ve never said that. It’s a very easy for her to make such zany allegations, but it’s just not true nor do I have a conflict of interest I don’t work for the pipeline, I don’t have any financial interest in the pipeline. The legal standard under South Dakota law for whether you have a conflict of interest is whether you as a commissioner have a direct pecuniary interest in the subject of the legislation. The pipeline doesn’t provide me any money, it doesn’t take any money away from me personally and I have no pecuniary interest in the pipeline whatsoever, so that meets the test. Additionally the States Attorneys office when Bill Golden was here already cleared me on it so make all these allegations you want, but it’s just not the way that we’re going to get sound public policy made here. By pulling the pin on a grenade and throwing it in the room and hoping it creates some damage, that’s just not going to work, these are big issues that we need to move forward on we need to get past all these so we can move forward and get something done. With regard to Linda Montgomery’s comment, Linda I have asked the pipeline to provide the plume studies, they have agreed as part of their concessions to provide us as commissioners with the plume studies. They’re going to provide decision makers and policymakers with access to that information so previously Summit many many months ago provided copies of those studies to the PUC that was a staff to staff transfer that happened. PUC is not allowed to release that information to the public I believe now there was a comment made by Gary Hanson at one of PNC Commission meetings or he’s like said something to the extent I believe of these studies were not provided to us, well that may have been from Navigator, but Summit has told me and I’ve asked for concessions on this I’ve asked for copies, so those are things that I’ve asked for I’ve also asked for depth of cover concessions as well because people like Jason Vanden Topper early on came in here and said how come it’s going to be at 4 feet not at six feet and the concession that they made on that is that they will voluntarily agree 6 foot depth of cover and there easements with land owners so they agreed to increase those things when I talked to them number of concessions were made on that front but just to answer your question they’re they’re going to provide them the policy makers I don’t know yet I didn’t ask them to provide it for the public,” Arends responded.

Landeen asked for a motion to be made on tabling the issue.

Jim Schmidt made a motion to table the discussion for 60 days to report back with their findings. Motion by Arends. Motion passed.


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