No Man is an Island. Township Zoning Can Affect Neighbors
A couple of townships in North Dakota are considering zoning regulations to prohibit wind development. The outcome may be counterproductive to our North Dakota fundamental values.
North Dakota people are generally well mannered, try to be kind and neighborly, willing to help a friend or neighbor or a stranger needing assistance on a rural road. It’s a result of our agrarian culture; the need to help each other in a challenging landscape and climate, and it speaks to our homogenous society. We’ve been raised that way, and taught that at the dinner table and in our schools.
If a local township board choses to prohibit energy development, it is likely to have impacts beyond the township borders and these decision may hurt their neighbors. Certainly, if a township prohibits wind development it will impede economic opportunity for the township citizens themselves. (Is that the goal, to impede economic opportunity, and erode rural economic vitality?) But, a decision in one township can certainly influence wind development in a neighboring township. If township A prohibits wind development, it may influence investment decisions in Township B. Township B may choose to delay or avoid making public improvements (roads) because Township A doesn’t have the revenue to continue the improvement. The decision to prohibit wind development in one or two townships may influence neighboring townships and investment decisions in the entire county. These types of decisions often have long term unintended consequences.
North Dakota people are still neighborly. We should broaden our thinking, to maintain economic opportunity for rural North Dakota and the rural way of life. We should never forget those values or fail to practice them in our personal lives, in business and in public decision-making. We think townships should tread carefully in decisions to prohibit economic opportunity for their citizens and potentially others outside the township.