Friday, January 23, 2009

Foster County Commissioners Vote To Not Allow Carrington Residents on Planning and Zoning Board. Is That Legal?

Foster County Commissioners: LeRoy Hart - Jim Carr - Dwayne Erickson

The Foster County Independent finally published the official minutes for the November 4th and 18th, 2008, Foster County Commissioners meeting at the end of December.

One wonders why it takes so long for the county commissioners to publish their minutes for public perusal. Could it possibly be that they want to keep Carrington citizens in the dark as long as possible regarding some of their group's decisions?

For instance, how many Carrington citizens know that they will no longer be considered for appointments to the Foster County Planning and Zoning Commission? That's right! To quote from the commissioners' official minutes published in the Independent: "Future appointments to the Planning and Zoning Commission were considered. Chairman proposed that the county zoning commission should be made up of rural county residents. Hart moved to adopt the policy that Planning and Zoning Commissioners must be rural residents, and second by Carr. Upon roll call vote: Hart voted "yes," Carr voted "yes," and Erickson voted "yes. Motion carried and policy adopted."

These three men seemingly do not want any input from Carrington residents (the largest population in Foster County) when it comes to making decisions for the county. Doesn't it seem strange that they voted to not have ANY city or town's people on the Planning and Zoning Commission? Why aren't they interested in input from city residents - other than Mayor Fry?

Shouldn't the Foster County Commissioners be looking for a balanced group of members for their Planning and Zoning Commission - both city and rural county residents? Shouldn't they be listening to the county as a whole, not just one aspect of it?

Where is this policy leading? Does this mean that the current city and town residents on the Planning and Zoning Commission will be requested to give up their appointments? Perhaps our three county commissioners weren't happy with some P&Z members' vocal opposition to having the Van Bedaf mega-dairy locate so close to Carrington. Is this their way of getting rid of city members who didn't go along with their ideas?

It will be interesting to see where Mr. Hart, Mr. Carr, and Mr. Erickson lead us next, particularly if they don't want any city or town input from Carrington citizens in their decision making.


  1. I want to apologize for not keeping up with this blog. There was a rather negative comment which must have been showing for quite a while - calling the commissioners names and telling Carrington not to vote for them. Although I agree that Carrington town's people should not vote for them, I think the name-calling is unnecessary.

    I understand that two of the commissioners' positions will be up for a vote in November: Mr. Carr and Mr. Hart. What I don't understand is why anyone who lives in Carrington would vote for any of the present commissioners. They made it very clear by a unanimous vote that no one in Carrington could serve on the Foster County Planning and Zoning Commission. The decisions that the commission make directly affect Carrington, the major population city of the county. So, I ask again: why don't they want anyone from Carrington to be on the commission?

  2. The latest news is that LeRoy Hart is definitely not seeking re-election. However, Jim Carr will be on the ballot as an incumbent. Those running for the two seats and against Carr are Mike Larson, Paul Straley and Mark Linderman.

  3. Questioning a Commissioner's Ethics

    I first took notice of Jim Carr in 2008 when he and the other Foster County commissioners were trying to locate the Van Bedaf dairy on the outskirts of Carrington without telling the general public about it. Being a newcomer to the area, I was rather naive about the accepted workings of our local commissioners, so I put up a website called StinkFreeCarrington.Com to call attention to their maneuvering and to warn Carrington residents about the problems of a megadairy being located so close to town. A group of Foster County citizens and I felt that Jim Carr had a definite conflict of interest as a publicly elected official trying to push through a dairy with which he had a financial interest. He had actually signed a business contract with the Van Bedafs even before the public was aware of the commission's intent to have the Van Bedafs locate their dairy here and before the North Dakota Department of Health had even approved their application.

    In the time that followed, members of the Foster County Planning and Zoning Board did a thorough study of the problems that could arise with a megadairy being located so close to Carrington and our major water supply - the aquifer that lies under the city. They had received many letters from local residents and business owners expressing their concerns about potential problems from such a close megadairy. Therefore, the Board recommended that the Foster County Commissioners NOT accept the Van Bedaf's application.

    Jim Carr's unethical maneuvering came into play again when he announced in a public meeting that he possessed 346 letters from Carrington citizens "in support of a dairy." He used that supposed fact to influence the other commissioners, and they overrode the Board's recommendation and voted to accept the Van Bedaf's application. When asked by concerned citizens to produce the "346 letters in support of a dairy," Carr refused, even though it was unlawful to do so.

    After a lawsuit against the Foster County Commissioners was filed and won, the judge ordered Carr to give up the letters. It turns out that the 346 letters consisted of only two letters. One letter was from Tom Erdmann, the person who organized the property sale to the Van Bedafs. The other letter was one which had been photocopied over and over again with signatures from county residents, out-of-county residents, some under-age residents, and several signed by the same person again and again. Several of the photocopied letters had a short personal note added. Sad to say, Commissioner Carr had given the public a completely different impression of the letters when he used them to overide the Planning and Zoning Board's recommendation that the Van Bedaf dairy should not be able to locate so close to Carrington.

    In this instance, Commissioner Carr's unethical use of public information and his refusal to show it to the public, cost Foster County the expense of defending a needless lawsuit. Thus, when Carr announced that he is going to run for his commissioner's seat again, I find myself wondering what other questionable (conflict of interests) practices he may have been involved in and what might come up in the future. I, for one, will not vote for him.