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Letter: Did Stark County zoning board really deny Great Northern Project Development?

Two months ago, the Stark County Planning and Zoning Board denied a request by Great Northern Project Development to change 686 acres of land from agriculture to industrial because of safety concerns and location.

But did it really?

After the meeting in September, it was found out that GNPD withdrew their request for the zoning change before the meeting started. This allowed GNPD to come back the night before Thanksgiving with that same request to change agriculture land to industrial.

Question: Did the zoning board members know GNPD withdrew their request before the September meeting? I think so.

GNPD CEO Charles Kerr said, “We believe the changes that have occurred since the last hearing are significant and material.”

The only changes made were to the appetites of certain zoning board members. I was at both meetings and the truth is there were no changes made.

In The Dickinson Press article on Thursday, Nov. 28, Russ Hoff said, “If we don’t move forward, this goes down the line to Billings County.”

Back in September, Klayton Oltmanns said there are six other locations in Stark County that can handle a terminal like this that are already zoned industrial. Also mentioned in September was keeping the industrial corridor east of South Heart.

After Jay Elkin made a motion to approve and Larry Messer seconded the motion with a yes from Gene Jackson, Sue Larson and Russ Hoff, the board members spent several minutes trying to get around some of the Stark County Comprehensive Plans Policies and had to make an amendment to the original motion. To me it looked like they didn’t know what they were doing.

The only reason there is any industrial land close to this project is because of the mistake made six years ago to rezone agriculture land to industrial for GNPD.

This is truly a blank check for GNPD. There are way too many unanswered questions. There is a large safety threat on Highway 10, turning 300 trucks a day onto the highway in the middle of a curve.