Claggett elected new chairman of County CommissionThe Davison County commissioners set the wheels in motion Tuesday at the courthouse to find a successor for District 1 Commissioner David Weitala, who died Jan. 17 of a heart attack.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
The Davison County commissioners set the wheels in motion Tuesday at the courthouse to find a successor for District 1 Commissioner David Weitala, who died Jan. 17 of a heart attack.
Since vice chairman Jerry Fischer is empowered to take over meetings in the absence of a chairman, the commissioners had expected Fischer to automatically assume the chairmanship slot, but Auditor Susan Kiepke told the board Tuesday that state law requires the board to elect a new chairman.
In a surprise move, Commissioner Gerald Weiss nominated John Claggett, who had served as chairman until Jan. 3, when Weitala was elected, and the motion was approved. The vote was 3-1, with Claggett abstaining.
Weiss’ rationale was that Claggett is current on all board issues and had developed strong working relationships with Planning and Development District III in Yankton, and with state government as a past president of the state Association of County Commissioners.
Electing Claggett, Weiss reasoned, would also eliminate the need to choose a new vice chairman.
Commissioner Denny Kiner said the change went against the grain of normal commission succession, but he went along. He said he will support Fischer as chairman in the next board election.
“This has been a tough week for everyone concerned,” Kiner said. “We need to work together as a team and not let personal agendas get in the way.”
The change required the board to amend Tuesday’s agenda to reflect the chairmanship election and to officially announce that the District 1 seat is vacant.
The commissioners authorized Kiepke to publicly advertise the opening and to invite interested residents of District 1, which covers southwest Mitchell, to apply for the vacant slot. Political affiliation is not a consideration, Claggett said.
Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Taylor said the commissioners will consider all applicants and appoint a successor who will serve until next the November general election. At that time, the appointee must run for re-election to serve out the balance of Weitala’s term, which ends in 2014.
“Whoever wins the election would be elected to a two-year term and then would have to run for re-election to get back on the four-year rotation after that,” Taylor said.
County Comprehensive Plan
The core of Tuesday’s meeting was a joint discussion with members of the county Planning and Zoning Commission regarding an update of the Davison County Comprehensive Plan.
District III Planner Brian McGinnis moderated the session and said the process, which could take six months to complete, will be the first major update of the county’s comprehensive plan since 1997.
The group discussed about half the results compiled from 17 comprehensive plan questionnaires. Members of both commissions completed the checkoff forms, as did respondents from county townships.
About 30 questionnaires had been distributed, said Zoning Administrator Dan Sudrla. The towns of Ethan and Mount Vernon did not return their questionnaires, he said.
“This is the beginning of the process,” McGinnis said. “Through these questionnaires, we’ll hope to discover what topics need further discussion.”
Issues like animal feeding operations and land use have the potential for becoming “hot zones” for discussion, McGinnis said.
A comprehensive plan can guide land use planning and future zoning regulations.
The questionnaire asked participants’ opinions on topics such as housing, agriculture, animal feeding operations, transportation (roads and bridges), economic development, utilities and services, social services and health care, the environment, education, law enforcement and emergency services, land use and county operations.
“We have a lot of handwritten comments, and that’s good,” McGinnis said.
One respondent wrote, “The county should not get into the housing business,” but others felt differently.
On the topic of housing, 16 of 17 respondents said that more single family and senior, and senior assisted living accommodations are needed. Ten people said manufactured housing is not needed.
Noting the general antipathy toward mobile homes, McGinnis pointed out that banning such housing would be discriminatory, but the counties can, and do, address the aesthetic concerns of such housing.
On the issue of water use, survey respondents felt there’s sufficient water for immediate needs but probably not for extensive growth or development.
Planning Commission member Tom Greenway said the county has considerable groundwater resources that could also be explored.
Both commissions set 9:45 a.m. Feb. 7 as the time and date to continue their discussion of goals, objectives and eventual policies that could change zoning and other laws.
In other business, the commissioners:
- Gave Jail Administrator Don Radel permission to advertise for one full-time corrections officer and four part-time officers.
- Sitting as the Board of Adjustment, approved Curtis Mueller’s application for a setback variance to build a pole barn at his property in Tobin Township.
- Gave their unanimous support for state Senate Bill 42, which specifies a two-year time limitation, among other provisions, for filing a writ of habeas corpus. Such a filing could be made by defendants or prisoners who wish to challenge the legality of their imprisonment. The goal of the bill is to reduce county costs created by such challenges.