Tony Kennedy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune heard a tip that a former zoning administrator in the paper’s coverage area had resigned and taken a job at a mineral company. It was the same company that received a county permit for a frac sand mine, Tony’s story says.
From that tip, Tony found other county regulators who’d taken jobs with sand mining companies.
To get permits, companies “covet the local regulators’ knowledge of the region’s geography, personal connections in small towns, and intricate understanding of county ordinances covering health, traffic and the environment,” Tony writes.
If projects in your area seem to be delayed, check into staffing. Departures in the county zoning offices can leave offices unable to handle applications, the story says. Reporters should pay attention to projects approved by local commissions, and check to see how many are pending.
For his story, Tony submitted requests for the administrators’ emails. He also spoke with county officials. He suggests reporters call each county that does the zoning, and contact the professional association that covers the group.