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Watershed's silence is sign of eroding local control

To the Editor:

Jim Hedeen's letter (R-E, Oct. 15) contained inac curacies. He states that all three Belle Creek Watershed Board members knew of the permit request.

In my call to him Oct. 3, he stated he knew nothing about the Goodhue County Soil and Water Conservation District letter until Sunday night Oct. 2. This was past the comment period deadline of Sept. 30.

Another board member has stated he knew nothing the Oct. 4 Goodhue County Board meeting.

Therefore, please clarify when and how all three members knew of the comment period on the permit application and decided not to involve the district

Did you have a Belle Creek Watershed meeting to discuss the wetland issue and respond to the Goodhue County Soil and Water Conservation District letter and have those comments passed on to the commissioners? If so, please provide minutes and results of that vote.

To my knowledge and according to my Oct. 3 conversation with Mr. Hedeen, the watershed president/chairman did not forward the letter to the other members or call a meeting. For Hedeen to be the deciding vote, a vote needed to be taken.

If this was the only decision-making group with direct and obvious conflicts of interests related to the industrial wind project, it might not be as big a deal. But conflicts of interest are a common trademark of unscrupulous developers. Their goal is to pit good people against each other and manipulate our small boards one at a time by taking away local control. The blame needs to be set squarely on developer's tactics.

Commissioner Ron Allen questioned why there was no comment from the Belle Creek Watershed. He knew from the Planning Advisory Commission that they could express their concerns, if any. If Richard Samuelson had called and talked to you, Mr. Hedeen, before the commissioners meeting, why did he not mention this at the County Board meeting? I believe it was because he contacted you only after the commissioners' meeting.

We applaud our commissioners who keep asking for accountability with any of these permits on our local level.

This acreage may not make or break this proposed project. However, with the level of secrecy, misrepresentation, hiding behind "trade secrets" by a private company that relies on huge public subsidies, it is understandable that citizens seek comments and protective conditions to be offered when a controversial project of this scale is proposed.

Whether the watershed board approved or disapproved of the permit, they should have met, discussed, and offered conditions and comments to ensure that the Belle Creek Watershed infrastructure would not be impacted in any way. Unfortunately, it is now another example of erosion of our local control.

Steve Groth