County board debates reason for alternates

Dakota Bixler

Dakota Bixler

The Brookings County Board of Adjustment met Sept. 7 and discussed the ongoing issue of whether or not to appoint alternates to the board.

Last week, the county commission decided they would wait to make a decision regarding alternates until they had heard the board’s recommendation.

The debate about alternates stems from an issue raised at the August meeting when a partial board voted down a petition for a large dairy operation.

Since only seven of the nine board members voted, a petition was filed by Mark Meierhenry, a Sioux Falls attorney, on behalf of Melle Kloosterman, claiming that not only was the vote unfair, but also requesting the presence of alternates on the board.

However, not everyone sees the vote as unfair. It is a common occurrence for votes to be conducted without full attendance of the board members.

“Boards usually make decisions without full board membership present,” said Emil Klavetter, a member of the board as well as a county commissioner.

“That sort of thing happens often. Even having alternates cannot guarantee that no one will ever miss a vote.”

Although other counties have alternates that serve on their Boards of Adjustment, many do not, viewing them as generally unnecessary.

Zoning and Drainage Director Bob Hill said, “Alternates would possibly get bored by not having or doing any action.”

They would have to attend all meetings just as regular members do, but would not be able to vote unless a regular member was absent, Hill said.

Although alternates might be a good idea, he says it just may not be practical.

There was never a call for alternates on the board before the Kloosterman petition was filed.

“The board takes every request seriously,” Hill said.

“They were asked to consider alternates, and whenever they are asked for something, it becomes a pressing issue to them.”

A final decision regarding alternates is pending. The board did decide Tuesday, however, that they will not rehear the Kloosterman issue.