Reader's View: True issue in youth camp debate is land deal
After reading, "Youth camp loses land in Normanna Township," in the Dec. 21 News Tribune, it seemed important to me to clarify the issue. Although the article framed the issue as about a neighboring township's struggle with the youth organization...
After reading, "Youth camp loses land in Normanna Township," in the Dec. 21 News Tribune, it seemed important to me to clarify the issue.
Although the article framed the issue as about a neighboring township's struggle with the youth organization and/or about NIMBYism in Normanna Township, the true issue is the original land deal. Some months ago the St. Louis County Board decided to pull 25 acres of conserved land from the Island Lake Memorial Forest to rezone it for commercial use. Board members then directed the Housing and Redevelopment Authority to sell it to Blake Cazier and Stephanie Love, or to Cazier Properties LLC, which said the property would be leased to their nonprofit youth organization.
The County Board's original decision to remove and reclassify this conservation land was made in conflict with the Normanna Comprehensive Land Use Plan, and the town board was not consulted prior to the decision, as the story reported. The 25 acres is within the watershed for several North Shore rivers, yet there was no evidence the Department of Natural Resources was asked to consider the environmental impact of rezoning the land for commercial use.
Although the County Board's decision to help the youth program may have been well-intended, it was not made with either the transparency or due diligence warranted when deciding to carve out a piece of conserved land within a vital watershed and rezone it for commercial use.
I commend the County Board for reversing its original decision and deciding to utilize other resources available in its efforts to support this outdoor youth program.
The writer co-chaired the land-use committee that developed the Normanna Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which was approved by St. Louis County in 2003.