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Sunday, August 25, 2013
The answer to this question is yes, with the caveat that it is properly constructed to protect the rights of citizens in Roanoke County. The fundamental right to own property, i.e., real estate and land, in our country shouldn’t need explaining, but the insidious erosion of that right deserves examination.
As a practical matter, there is no longer a right to property ownership when local government taxes you to own it, taxes you when you improve it, and can change the rules of “ownership” through zoning, rezoning, permits, special permits, demands from special interests and even cronyism.
What a property rights resolution could, or should, do is level the playing field between local government, the citizenry and their private businesses by affirming the rights we do have and making the processes in place consistent with the idea of limited government.
We elect local government officials, and the Virginia Constitution provides them a limited degree of authority. When they fail to listen to the concerns of those who elect them, they are obviously negligent, at best. This is not an uncommon occurrence in land use planning, and is evidenced by the Keagy Village disaster and wind ordinance fiasco in Roanoke County.
These are just two examples where the concerns of the citizens most directly affected were entirely ignored by the board of supervisors and/or their political appointees on the planning commission. Since their authority is derived from us, it is only natural that we be given, at least, an equal voice in planning decisions.
There is clearly some need for land use planning. Public health concerns via industrial use might be one example. Infringement on another’s use of their property for any reason, or negative effects on the value of another’s property through planning decisions might be other examples. But the pertinent question is: Do we want our right to own and use our property planned into oblivion by government?
A properly constructed property rights resolution could restore confidence in local government’s decisions regarding land use for citizens and businesses alike throughout Roanoke County. Affirm what locally elected government should do for us, not what it can get away with when we aren’t paying attention. Create and confirm a consistent process where citizen and private business input is not only welcome, but is required.
What this board of supervisors has is an opportunity to provide assurance that the people have a voice, and to be an example of limited government and real leadership in Virginia.
To quote James Madison, “As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.”
Weather Journal70 Thursday to ice Sunday?