Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who really owns your property? Does the government? Do you? Do you own it, but the government controls it?

I believe in too many towns that we have a lite version of feudalism, it is an insidious and frustrating system of government control and manipulation of private property. You own it and pay taxes for the privilege of keeping it, but do not try to do anything with it without the express permission of the overlord. If you want to relax with your family any time you want in a pool on your own property, you have a maze of conflicting regulations. If you want to have a few organic eggs for your health, too bad we are watching you. If you want to put a solar panel on your house, jump through twelve hoops. If you want to keep the litter of cats because all of your friends are too smart to take any, we want you to choose which ones may be killed. If you want to paint your home some unique color, that is not our liking. If you want a Bible study, have your neighbors walk to it. If you want to work from your home, did we give you permission? Every action seems proscribed and you have to pay for the privilege with your annual payments to the lords called property taxes and maybe homeowners association fees.

I believe it is time to restore balance to the property owner. That is why I was proud to lead in advocating , with my friend Sean Lynn, the passage of a zoing and permitting simplification in the City of Dover. Our planner, Anne Marie Townsend put together a work of art. When Mayor Carey signs this law, it will make Dover a much more efficient place to live.

I am pushing a homeowner’s bill of rights which will protect the right of people to have first amendment activities on their properties such as political yard signs, receive literature, fly flags, have Bible studies, and also protect their right to earn a living even if they belong to a homeowner’s association.

I led the way to block mandatory homeowner association membership in developments before there is a bill of rights.

Last night was a busy one in the various committees. I questioned efforts to ban shallow wells. There was an effort to ban fowl and place a strict 5 cat limit in residential areas. Folks if we have another Great Depression, we will rue the day that we could not have a couple of well maintained chickens. In certain areas of Dover, particularly in the Haitian community, this is common practice. Such an assault on their culture is unnecessary as there is no groundswell of complaints. People have found them less annoying than dogs and cats. In a few years, we may be joining them at the rate we are heading. The ban could have also hurt Del-State Research and Agricultural programs which would be bad for jobs.

I did help shepard through committee an effort by the planning office to simplify the pool regulations. It almost bogged down. I was also pleased we lighten the load on landlords by eliminating the requirement for onerous reporting of income for each property. Bill Hare led charge and I was pleased to support him every step of the way.

It seems every two weeks there is another proposal from the planning office to plan more of our lives. Every two weeks, I push back for the individual. I joked that Ann Marie’s staff likely has my picture up on their dart board. What pleases me is that so many other people who used to let it go through are now thinking critically when these issues are raised.

If we are to be a free people, then we must be able to control our own property. I recognize that is not an absolute right, it can be limited when your activity affects my property, but without that fundamental right, we are nothing more than feudal serfs.

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