Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In January, the Miami County Commissioners asked the residents of Miami County to participate in a public survey to find out what kind of development the citizens wanted in Miami County.

They wrote: We need input to help us understand residents’ priorities.

The residents of Northern Miami County did participate.

Ninety-four percent told them that we wanted to remain rural and seventy-one percent said the number one reason that they live here is the rural atmosphere.

There is no question as to what the vast majority of the residences want. However, somehow three of the four Miami County Commissioners voted “NO” to the incorporation of Golden even after their own attorney made it very clear that forming the new city was the only way to keep the rural character of the area. I never thought that our local Government would so openly disregard the will of the people they are responsible to represent.

The Miami County Commissioners all agreed that the only way to keep our community rural and to promote/allow orderly development in Northern Miami County was to incorporate the City of Golden. Yet today, October 13th 2021, the Miami County Commissioners voted to deny the incorporation. They stated that it was denied because the residents of the area weren’t asking for anything that we didn’t already have. In reality, we were asking for something we don’t already have. We were asking for a voice in deciding the future development of the area we live in. By denying the incorporation of the City of Golden, they have declared open season on our neighborhood. It’s obvious that the three commissioners wanted warehouses to be built in Northern Miami County in spite of the wishes of the residents of the area. They have allowed their greed for the possibility of industrial tax revenue in 10 years to override the preservation of rural residential land and Hillsdale Lake.

By voting against Golden, the three Commissioners just sent an invitation to NorthPoint and Edgerton to build warehouses in Northern Miami County. They have awarded Edgerton/NorthPoint our voice. Remember that on Election Day. Now the decision of what and where development happens is left to an outside company that will purchase any land that is cheap, then ask Edgerton to annex it for industrial use. This is the pattern. Edgerton has never denied any NorthPoint request.

Miami County will not have a vote on future industrial development. We will not have a say in what is built next door. NorthPoint will decide what and where to build. Miami County residents will pay to build, repair and protect our roads as they are flooded with truck traffic. The truck drivers will gas up and eat at the truck stops in Johnson County. They have no reason to spend money in Miami County.

I believe all the county study sessions and all the expert witnesses’ testimony was just an expensive dog & pony show to justify the commissioners’ forgone conclusions. They didn’t need the study sessions to come up with a definition of a city, or to determine that large land owners are interested in selling to industrial developers. None of the expert witnesses said anything that would indicate that Golden would cause a duplicity of local government or trample on anyone’s property rights. The experts did say that further warehouse development would be very harmful to Hillsdale Lake.

When giving justification for their votes to deny Golden, Commissioner Roberts said that, in his mind, the purpose of a city is to provide services rather than to gain representation and that he thought there were already enough voices in northern Miami county. The only voice in Northern Miami County without Golden is Northpoint/Edgerton. Commissioner Pretz said that the area was mostly rural and that, although the proponents of Golden were greater in numbers and paid more property tax, the opponents owned more surface area. With that reasoning, Commissioner Pretz either has zero understanding of the concept of representative government or he’s intentionally being dishonest. Commissioner Dixon said that his biggest concern about warehouse development was the negative impact that it may have on Hillsdale Lake and that he didn’t hear anything in the expert testimony that would lead him to believe that warehouses would have any negative affect on the lake at all. If that’s true, he must have been asleep during that testimony. The experts that testified about the effect on Hillsdale Lake said very clearly that the warehouses that have already been built are having a huge negative impact on the lake and that further construction would greatly accelerate that damage. Commissioner Dixon also said that he didn’t think it would be so bad to have warehouses built in Northern Miami County despite the overwhelming public voice saying the opposite.

After the vote, it was obvious to those of us who have been involved in the process to incorporate Golden from the beginning that the months of expert testimony were all for show. In the end, the three commissioners who voted against Golden did so for reasons that went directly against the information provided by those experts and more importantly, they voted against the citizens they are supposed to represent. Their vote was only in the best interest of NorthPoint/Edgerton. They should be ashamed.

On a separate note, if the commissioners didn’t know the outcome of the vote before the meeting started, why did they have a police presence there. Police weren’t present at any of the other meetings. We participated in this process peacefully for five months. After the vote, the commissioners hid out in the back room of the commission chamber and then sulked out, heads hanging with police closely behind. It’s a sad day when local leaders so blatantly fail in their duty that they need a police escort to protect them from the citizens they are supposed to represent.

The only commissioner who did their job that day was commissioner Vaughan. He actually listened to the citizens and to the experts and made a very intelligent plea to the other commissioners to do the same. The citizens of Miami County are fortunate to have him as a representative.

The citizens of Northern Miami County have now been denied the ability to form a city government to look after their interests and learned that our county representatives are very willing to place the interests of a city outside our county and a corporation from another state above their own citizens. So, the question remains, where is our representation? What government entity do we turn to now?

The next time the County Commissioners ask for your input, remember GOLDEN.

Dennis and Mary Koch

Spring Hill

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