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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Heartland Building: Permit First, Investigate Problems Later?

Help me out on this one: a conditional-use permit for Heartland Consumers Power District's new buildings in the Lakeview Industrial Park comes up on the Madison City Commission's agenda Monday night. Local optometrist Jud Bergan attends the meeting to voice concerns about drainage from the property to his adjoining business lot. He worries that construction of the new facility might exacerbate those problems.

Here's where I need the help: the commissioners thank Dr. Bergan for bringing the issue to their attention, but they go ahead and issue the conditional-use permit, saying this meeting isn't the proper venue for addressing drainage concerns.

Hmm... I would think any permitting process relating to the construction project would be a perfectly appropriate time to deal with problems that project might cause.

Don't worry, Jud: Builder Jason Crain of Sioux Falls assures the city their work will make the drainage better. And even if it doesn't, the LAIC is rolling in dough thanks to its big federal earmark. They should be able to fix any drainage problems. Just be quiet and don't make waves... in that water in your parking lot.


  1. While Jud's concerns are legitimate, I agree with the council that it's not appropriate for them to rule here. They are not construction experts/hydrological engineers.

    The municipal building department (I don't remember what Madison calls it at the moment) is however capable and responsible for evaluating construction plans.

    Jud might have already lodged a complaint there but had it fall on deaf ears (not terribly uncommon I hear) and chose to voice it more publicly. If so, good activism on his part. If not, he should lodge a complaint with the right department!

  2. I know the commissioners aren't experts... but if there are concerns that a project might cause problems, isn't it within their purview to hold up on letting the project proceed until they can get their experts to look into those concerns?

  3. No, that is why Madison has a municipal building department. If every building issue was brought to the commission's attention and they had to act on it that is all they would do all day everyday. They have to delegate responsibility. Jud most likely isn't happy with the answer from the municipal building department he received.

  4. I understand the point about where the expertise is and the need to delegate. But if I'm on a commission, and someone says a construction project might exacerbate a problem, wouldn't be within my rights (and maybe even obligated) to put the permit that is in my power on hold until I hear from the municipal building department that the problem isn't a problem?

  5. The conditional use permit issue was for a zoning issue: http://madisonet.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=20300547&BRD=1302&PAG=461&dept_id=181987&rfi=8

    While Jud may have brought about some appropriate concerns about a building being built on adjoining property, it was not a zoning issue which is what the commission was addressing. The commission acted rightly in dismissing his claim.


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