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Residents ignored on use permit request

Recently some of us received a letter from the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board informing us that Lakes Concrete was requesting an interim use permit to open a sand and gravel pit at 3000 Grange Road NW. We were invited to submit concerns and comments to the board, or appear in person at the meeting on Oct. 2. At that meeting all physically able residents with adjacent properties were present, and all voiced opposition to this request. The reasons we stated included:

-- We had all purchased residential property in a rural area zoned R-2, expecting it to remain R-2.

-- Our property values would go down (although our taxes probably would not).

-- There are young children and pets in the adjoining properties, and we are concerned for their safety.

-- Esthetically the view of gravel or sand piles and heavy equipment directly out our windows is not acceptable.

-- Further noise disturbances with trucks and equipment are not desired.

-- Winds will blow sand onto our property, creating dust problems and lowering the lifestyle of longtime property owners with respiratory problems.

After listening to each neighbor speak, the board discussed a few items and then voted to ignore us and recommend approval of the request.

My questions today are how can a group of property owners, who have been paying taxes on their land for an average of 20 years, be ignored? How can an outside business be listened to, given permission to come in and purchase residential property, and change our neighborhood atmosphere? Will our property taxes go down as our land values decline? Why can one company’s desire for greater profit outweigh the safety, comfort and desires of the majority? Furthermore, after the 10 years that Lakes Concrete is requesting usage, will this property ever be useful as a home site, which would surely generate more future taxes than just allowing the land to become a field of grass?