Letter to the Editor: North Salem Township Board
Dear Editor -
Do you know only 22 of Missouri’s 114 counties still have a township style of government? If you ever wondered why this form of governance is in decline, look no further than Linn County’s North Salem Township Board (NSTB), comprised of Jim Pfeiff, Julie Byers and Patsy Bailey. Another member, Eric Jackson, is new to the board and I know of no one who considers him part of the “problem.” This board seems to enjoy flexing its little bureaucratic muscle to the extreme. Just a little background on this issue: My wife and I have lived on our windswept hill west of New Boston, off and on, for 40 years. We have had no problems and with help from our neighbor we have kept both of our roads clear of obstructive brush and safe for traffic. Although the Missouri brush law has been in effect for many years in Linn County, only recently has our board decided to exceed the maximum requirements of the law. They must have decided the current Missouri law didn’t “punish” North Salem Township land owners enough, so they made up their own requirements/demands and are trying to pass them off as Missouri Law (i.e., the brush notices sent to landowners instructs us to clear the entire right of way all the way to the fence/boundary lines of private property and then straight up to cloud level on any limbs hanging over the fence. This supposed requirement is not in the brush law), Missouri Revised Statutes (2018) Title XVII Chapter 263.245 (and that’s statute, not statue, Madam Clerk) is the law: the only law, and no matter how verbally abusive and threatening NSTB Trustee Pfeiff got with me over the phone, the NSTB board can’t change that fact. Sadly, some landowners have accepted this fabrication and have done unnecessary work and were charged unnecessary expenses, reportedly $11,000 in one instance. This is a shameful situation.
According to Dick King, Linn County Presiding Commissioner, North Salem Township is the only township in the county that has a brush letter problem. So, either we North Salem Township land owners are dramatically different from the rest of the county, or the board is creating the problem. Many believe it’s the latter; I agree. After talking to board members from other townships, I’ve found these boards work with the landowners to keep the roads passable and safe, upholding the spirit of brush laws. The North Salem Board has a much different attitude and agenda.
So now comes the big question: why would the NSTB do this to their neighbors? And what are they getting out of this? I understand that a position on a township board is thankless and the pay is pitiful so it wouldn’t attract many people, all the more reason for Linn County to step away from this antiquated form of government where petty bureaucrats can cause major damage. If we join the vast majority of Missouri counties and go to county government, I believe this nonsense will end and the sooner, the better.
North Salem Tonwship landoawner