David Smisson, Montgomery Village, Md.
I grew up in Minot, and signed with the military in 1981. I am still in the Army, and am currently assigned to Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland.
I have always followed the hometown newspaper, because I have never had a hometown other than Minot. Mostly the news is interesting, patriotic, or deals with the difficulties of floods or home fires or the joy of how people I knew are getting married or having children. But now I am hearing news of what looks like business taking advantage of the individual. I am specifically referring to the First Western Bank zoning variance request which was granted by the Minot City Council in the Brooklyn subdivision, reducing a set-back from the customary 25 feet, to 4 feet in a residential area along Ninth Avenue Southwest. Having lived in many states and countries during my military time, I have seen that many communities don't come together during times of difficulty quite like Minot.
The flood in 2011 proved it to everyone around me, as I bragged that after the flooding ended, we would not hear people asking for more federal aid and stories of theft, but we would see stories of people working together, and sharing their homes and labor to defeat the common enemy of flooding. And that is exactly what happened.
This zoning issue bothers me, because it looks like the Goliath is bypassing legal process to get the upper hand on the homeowner. Having seen the complaint, the sheriff's letter and the summons, it appears this zoning variance was approved by City Council without any new testimony only seven days after it was disapproved by the Planning Commission.
Regardless, based on the law as presented, the only body legally authorized to approve or disapprove a zoning variance is the Planning Commission and not the City Council. If the people of Minot don't stand up against this small skullduggery today, based on my experience in other countries, you can expect only one thing ... more and bigger skullduggery and legal maneuvering tomorrow.