Theoretically, zoning regulations were first introduced in the United States for the purpose of segregating uses of land that are thought to be incompatible. Looks like a reasonable purpose; why not let the government regulate who builds what to prevent innocent neighbors be wronged or injured in the process? After all, we don’t want someone to built a polluting factory near a residential complex. Right.
In practice, zoning regulations have developed into a tool for control over private citizens who violate no laws in the use of their property. And with the control over private citizens, zoning laws have also developed into a money-making machine for the local governments – forcing individual citizens to pay exorbitant fees for unnecessary permits and variances.
Mark Grapin, a veteran from Iraq, discovered it the hard way. He promised his two sons to build them a tree house in the backyard of his own house when he returns from Iraq. When he started building the house, the county bureaucrats were there right away to tell him that he couldn’t build the tree house in his own backyard because he didn’t have a permit.
It turns out the permit will cost him $1,400, and he will have to prove that the tree house “will be in harmony with the intended spirit and purposes of this Ordinance and will not be contrary to the public interest.” In his own back yard. On his own property. For his own sons.
Reading this, I am reminded of Mel Gibson’s words in his movie, The Patriot: “Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away?” The tyrant at the time imposed a meager tax on the tea the American colonists bought. Our modern tyrants in the local governments wouldn’t even allow us to build a tree house in our backyard unless we pay them an exorbitant amount of money for permits and “handling.”
And if we can’t stand up to a small bunch of local tyrants, how can we stand up to Washington DC?
Liberty doesn’t start from Washington DC. Liberty start from our home and our county. We can’t have liberty on a national level if we can’t fight for it on a local level. If zoning laws have been subverted to such an extent as to be used for control by bureaucrats over law-abiding citizens, and for extorting money for local bureaucrats, it is time for us to follow the example of our Founding Fathers and do what they did. We can’t be slaves locally and free men nationally. Liberty starts from home.