Accountability wanted by landowner
By Emily Bialkowski
Land-use issues plague the Houston County Board. Whether it’s creating regulations for proposed hydraulic fracturing sand mines or arguing for stricter consequences for not following permits and ordinances, the board has played witness to a wave of complaints against the Zoning Department.
On Aug. 27 the board entertained yet another “call to action” against the status quo.
Lucille Omodt Crow, of Money Creek Township, filed felony criminal charges Aug. 5 with the County Attorney’s Office after a contractor allegedly took an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 cubic yards of aggregate from her land without permission and without compensation.
Omodt Crow said she signed a simple three-line document granting permission to a construction contractor to remove a deteriorated boundary fence, plus trees and overgrown brush between her 40-acre field and the adjacent neighbor’s 6-acre field.
Neighbor Jeff Beckman had granted permission to the contractor to sell 30,000 cubic yards of fill from his field for a Houston County bridge replacement project.
“I agreed to the removal of the fence line with the stipulation: No fill is to be taken from the Omodt Crow field,” she said.
“In late October 2012, the construction company submitted a forgery of my signature to the Houston County zoning administrator for a zoning application to take up to 30,000 cubic yards of fill from the Beckman and the Omodt Crow Farm.”
A conditional use permit for mineral extraction was approved by the County Board Nov. 27, 2012, but Omodt Crow argued a pre-application meeting should have taken place with the township board first, as is stated in the ordinance.
“Had this one step been followed, the trespass, taking and theft of my property would have never occurred,” Omodt Crow said.
The landowner shared her thoughts during the public comment portion of the meeting, so no action was taken by the County Board.