domain battle now on national stage
August 8, 2006
Greg Bean Coda
Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider and the members of his
"Schneider Team" should be so proud - they've gone from being
villains on a local and regional level to villains of national
you read a daily newspaper, chances are that last Sunday you
noticed that a Long Branch family, the Hoaglands, were featured
on the cover of Parade magazine, along with the headline "Will
the Government Take Your Home?" Also featured on the cover were
a poster urging a halt to eminent domain abuse and a photo
kicker stating, "A family fights back."
three-page story that accompanied the cover photo chronicled the
battle that the Hoaglands, and others around the country where
local governments are taking property by eminent domain for
redevelopment, have undertaken to save their properties.
even included a take-out box outlining what you can do if the
government says it wants to take your property for
redevelopment, and discussed the national backlash that resulted
from last year's decision by the United States Supreme Court in
the Kelo v. City of New London (Connecticut) case. In that case,
the court ruled that local governments do have the power to
seize homes and turn the property over to private developers, on
the theory that the new developments will bring in more tax
Hoaglands are members of MTOTSA (Marine and Ocean Terraces and
Seaview Avenue), the group of homeowners who stand to lose their
properties to eminent domain, so a developer can build 185
expensive condominiums. Their story has gone from creating
outrage around New Jersey and the region, to creating outrage on
the national stage in the pages of publications like The New
York Times and now Parade magazine, the largest circulation
publication (35 million weekly) in the entire United States.
Long Branch has truly become the national poster child for
eminent domain abuse, its sad story shared with what Parade
magazine claims were likely 78 million readers last Sunday
Over the last two years, Greater Media Newspapers - in
particular the Atlanticville and reporter Christine Varno - have
written dozens, if not hundreds, of stories about the eminent
domain battles in Long Branch. We were on the story long before
any other publication in our area, and we have stayed on it week
after week because we believed, and still believe, that this
conflict playing out in our backyards has significant
implications for every homeowner - not only in New Jersey, but
in every other state in our nation - who goes to sleep at night
under the mistaken impression that his home is safe from the
whim of a government that might decide that a new Starbucks or
Pump 'n Munch franchise is a better use for the property.
national spotlight now being trained on Long Branch proves that
we were right, and I expect other national publications will
pick up the story in the very near future.
Parade magazine used one of our photographs by staff
photographer Miguel Juarez, but did not mention the body of work
we have published on the eminent domain controversy in Long
Branch. So last week, before the Parade article was published, I
asked Sean Flynn, the author of the article, what had drawn his
attention to that community.
Initially, he said, his interest was piqued because the eminent
do-main dispute in Long Branch was brought to his attention by
someone at the Institute for Justice, a national nonprofit
organization that has taken the issue on as a crusade. He
visited the city in early June.
"It's a beautiful, beautiful place but the tension between the
city's need to redevelop and the people's rights to live in
their homes was dramatic," he said. "In my mind, what is going
on in Long Branch really crystallized the issue. I certainly
wouldn't say those properties are blighted ... the shabbiest
part was the 'Stop Eminent Domain Abuse' signs."
Will the national attention help the MTOTSA families save their
homes? Flynn doesn't know.
don't know if it will do them any good," he said. "You look back
at the Kelo case, and it didn't do those people any good."
Kelo did start a national backlash, and Flynn agrees the Long
Branch dispute is serious fuel for the fire.
July 30, Adam Liptak, writing for The New York Times, discussed
that very subject, the national "tidal wave of outrage"
generated by the Kelo case.
"Sometimes," he wrote, "Supreme Court cases have a way of
highlighting issues that had been absent from the national
agenda, and the cases can provoke reactions that have a far
greater impact than the ruling itself."
quotes Douglas Laycock, a law professor at the University of
Texas, who said, "I always tell my students that one of the best
things you can do is lose a case in the Supreme Court."
later, he quotes Dana Berlinger, from the Institute for Justice,
who said, "The decision brought to light this incredible rift
between what lawyers and cities thought was the law and what the
American people thought was the law. This is certainly the
situation of losing the battle and winning the war."
other words, the Kelo decision didn't help the people who lost
their property in Connecticut, but it may wind up saving the
properties of thousands.
extension, the national outrage generated by the coverage of the
Long Branch battle may be too late to save the MTOTSA members'
homes, but it may steer the country's course when it comes to
future cases of eminent domain abuse.
That, in reality, will be the "Schneider Team's" legacy. To go
down in American history as the leaders of the community that
caused a nation to say, "Enough is enough."
Gregory Bean is executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Will the Government Take Your Home?
Across the country, Americans fight to
protect their property.
By Sean Flynn
Published: August 6, 2006
Joy and Carl Gamble bought an English stucco house in Norwood,
Ohio, in 1969. They raised two children there and worked seven
days a week in their small grocery store to pay off the
mortgage. “ We had the house fixed up just the way we liked it,”
Carl says. “When we retired, we planned to sit down and enjoy
But now the Gambles live in their daughter’s basement. Their
house stands vacant in the weedy field that was their
neighborhood—seized by the city and transferred to a developer
who wants to build shops, offices and condominiums.
In Long Branch, N.J., Denise Hoagland, 39, has an endless view
of the Atlantic Ocean from the cottage she and her husband, Lee,
bought 13 years ago. Their garden blooms with so many flowers
that their three daughters call home “the place where the
butterflies fly.” But Long Branch wants to take their home and
about 35 other properties so a developer can build luxury
condos. “It’s theft,” Denise says. “It’s legalized theft.”
Technically, it is a forced sale, because the government has to
pay for the property. And it is legal: In June 2005, the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments can seize
homes to make way for private development. The decision in Kelo
v. City of New London triggered a sort of government land-grab.
In the one year since Kelo, more than 5,700 homes, businesses
and even churches were threatened with seizure for private
development, according to the nonprofit Institute for Justice (IJ),
and at least 350 were condemned or authorized for condemnation.
By comparison, about 10,000 were similarly threatened or taken
over from 1998 through 2002.
Government always has had the power to force the sale of private
property for public use—a process known as eminent domain. But
what is “public use”?
Historically, it meant highways, railroads, schools and sweeping
urban-renewal projects, such as the redevelopment of the
Baltimore waterfront. But Kelo made clear that middle-class
homes could be replaced with malls, offices, luxury
homes—anything that might increase tax revenue.
“It’s a blatant example of reverse Robin Hood—taking homes from
the poor and the middle-income and giving them to the rich,”
says Scott Bullock, the IJ attorney who argued (and lost) Kelo.
“The fact is, a shopping mall does usually produce more taxes
than a house,” says IJ attorney Dana Berliner. “An office
building does produce more taxes than a church. But if that’s
the rule—that anyone’s home can be taken away from them because
something else will produce more taxes—then no one’s home is
But Kelo also has sparked a backlash. In the past year, more
than two dozen states introduced or passed legislation and
constitutional amendments to stop what critics call “eminent
domain abuse.” Even the U.S. House of Representatives approved a
bill aimed to restrict eminent domain. Residents also are
fighting back through courts of law and public opinion.
In Norwood, the Gambles and two other property owners
represented by IJ brought their case to the Ohio Supreme Court.
(At press time, the court had yet to rule.) [See
editor’s note below.] In Long Branch, two dozen residents,
also working with IJ, are suing to stop their neighborhood from
being replaced with 185 condominiums. And in Lakewood, Ohio, my
hometown, the people of Scenic Park waged such a successful
public campaign three years ago that voters spared their homes
from being taken.
In each city, the process unfolded almost identically: A private
developer, with the government’s backing, wanted a big piece of
property—cliff-side homes with valley views in Lakewood,
ocean-front cottages in Long Branch—and tried to negotiate deals
with each owner. When some refused to sell, the cities
threatened to invoke eminent domain to clear the holdouts.
In order to do that, however, city officials first needed to
declare the neighborhoods “blighted.” But the legal designation
of “blight” bears little resemblance to a commonsense
definition. In Lakewood, for example, Scenic Park is a charming
neighborhood of older, well-kept homes. But because they lack
such modern touches as attached two-car garages and central
air-conditioning, the city deemed them blighted—a standard by
which more than 80 percent of Lakewood, even the former mayor’s
home, would likewise be blighted.
“We always bit on the word ‘blight,’” says Julie Wiltse, 63, who
helped neighbors distribute 20,000 fliers and sponsor a series
of blight events: a Blighted Block Party, a Blighted Chili
Cook-off, even a Blighted Groundhog Day (which predicted four
more months of blight). TV cameras and newspaper reporters loved
“We were very successful in explaining to the community, ‘If
we’re blighted, you’re blighted,’” Wiltse says.
Likewise, the Hoaglands’ neighborhood in Long Branch isn’t
“blighted” in any meaningful way. With one or two exceptions,
it’s a few blocks of low-key bungalows where families have lived
side-by-side for decades, even generations. The shabbiest
touches, ironically, are the posters in nearly every home’s
windows with the words “eminent domain abuse” inside a
red-slashed circle and the several homes that have been bought
by the developer and boarded up. What the area doesn’t have,
however, are the $500,000 condos or the restaurants with $12
hamburgers that were built immediately south of the
“When they want to revitalize,” says William Giordano, 41, whose
great-grandfather built his house, “suddenly we’re not good
enough to live here.”
The city has put prices on the houses it wants to take: $400,000
for the Hoaglands’ house, $374,000 for Lori Ann Vendetti’s,
$410,000 for the home her parents built across the street and
$325,000 for Anna DeFaria’s tiny gray cottage. Those might sound
like hefty sums, but not on the Jersey shore. “ I can’t get
anything in Long Branch for three and a quarter,” DeFaria says,
“let alone an ocean view.”
But what’s money? “The memories are here,” says Lori Ann
Vendetti. “They can come in with a million dollars, two
million—we won’t take it. A lot of people think we’re bluffing,
that everyone has a price. The Vendettis don’t have a price.”
Neither do the Gambles. Most of the properties that the Gambles
and their Norwood neighbors owned—6 9 out of 75—were sold to the
developer, who was required by the city to pay at least 25
percent above market value. Three others later settled with the
developer. Then the city used eminent domain to claim the last
three, concluding that the neighborhood was deteriorating, based
on a study that was paid for by the developer.
Tim Burke, a lawyer for the city, argues that the government had
to clear the holdouts, especially because there were so many
other property owners who had agreed to sell. “Would Norwood
have used eminent domain if it had to acquire 69 of the
properties? Clearly not,” he says.
As Burke explains it, Norwood is an old industrial town that
lost its industry and a third of its population. The city needs
to redevelop to generate new revenues, and clearly most of the
Gambles’ neighbors weren’t opposed. “When you’re a community
like Norwood, you’ve got to be concerned with the entire
citizenry,” Burke says. “And, yeah, there are going to be
instances where, in order to better the lives of the many, the
property of the few will have to be taken.”
But what if you’re one of those few? “That this is happening
here,” says Joy Gamble, “in the land ‘ of the people, for the
people, by the people…’” The thought trails off, and she just
shakes her head.
What You Can
Stay informed: Eminent domain projects usually are years
in the making—but quietly and without public reference to
“eminent domain.” Watch for words like “redevelopment,” says
Scott Bullock, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice.
Make noise: March, rally, call local newspapers and TV
stations. Try to turn community opinion to your side.
Ask for help: Several organizations may take your case
for free. But even if you have to hire your own lawyer, you can
fight City Hall.
Pester your state legislators now: Some states already
have passed new rules that restrict eminent domain.
Fight for the best deal: If you simply cannot save your
home, make it as expensive as possible. An analysis by The
Cincinnati Enquirer revealed that owners in Norwood, Ohio,
were paid on average twice the appraised value of their homes.
However, the ones who fought got even more.
On July 26, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the
city of Norwood can't use eminent domain to take Carl and Joy
Gamble’s home solely for economic development. The United States
Supreme Court had ruled previously that there is nothing
unconstitutional about a government taking private property,
with just compensation, solely for economic development but left
it to state courts to decide whether such takings violated their
own state constitutions. The Ohio Supreme Court further rejected
Norwood’s claim that it also could use eminent domain to
eliminate the Gambles’ neighborhood because it was a
“deteriorating area.” The court ruled that the phrase
“deteriorating area” was too vague—that it was, in effect, a
standardless standard. The court ruling means the development
group has to return the house to the Gambles. “Our state supreme
court did what the the U.S. Supreme Court did not do: It
protected our home,” Joy Gamble told reporters.
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Eminent domain is a government tool to be used sparingly
By Mayor Pat Hunter
The Moonpark Acorn, September 29, 2006
The United States Supreme Court reawakened a
political de- bate last year with its decision in Kelo
vs. City of New London.
In that case, the Supreme Court upheld a Connecticut
statute that allowed the condemnation of private
property for economic development purposes.
Condemnation, or as it is oftentimes referred to,
eminent domain, is the power invested in the government
to take private property for a "public purpose" provided
that fair compensation is first paid to the property
The Kelo case has thrust to the forefront of the
political agenda the issue of when it is appropriate for
a government to take private property. The debate
centers around what constitutes a "public purpose."
While one would think it should be easy to establish
absolutes, as with any sensitive issue, there are many
nuances that make absolute pronouncements difficult.
There are three basic contexts in which local government
may contemplate eminent domain-and each presents unique
It is important to note that state law requires any
public project necessitating the acqui- sition of
private property by eminent domain first be evaluated to
ensure it has been designed to achieve the greatest
public good and the least private injury. Consequently,
alternative designs which minimize the need for the
acquisition of private property are required to be
considered before the ultimate decision to condemn
property is reached. Even then, it is not an easy
decision to take private property to benefit the public
The first category of "public purpose" for which
eminent do- main may be used is in the acquisition of
private property for public infrastructure-a public
road, sewer, water line, etc. These are the traditional
govern- mental functions most people generally equate
with a "public purpose." In these circum- stances, the
use of eminent do- main-as a last resort, and only after
the owner has been fairly compensated-is probably the
The second category involves the acquisition of
private property to accommodate offsite infrastructure
improvements for a private development. For ex- ample, a
housing development is contemplated, but the development
requires that a road be widened across private property
to provide access to the development and reduce existing
traffic congestion. At first blush, the analysis here
seems easy-no way. Why should one private property owner
relinquish their property so a private developer can
benefit and make a profit by developing adjacent
But what about the situation where the road the
developer is being required to widen is a road the
community already needs to improve-at least partially-to
accommodate existing traffic. In that situation, the
alternative to widening the road is to have the city
acquire the property (at city expense) and widen the
road (at city expense). Is it preferable to have the
developer bear a proportionate share of those costs and
allow the city to use their precious tax dollars for
other fundamental public pro- grams such as street
maintenance, library services, and public safety?
The third eminent domain context involves
redevelopment. In Connecticut, the site of the Kelo
case, state law provides for the acquisition of private
property for economic development purposes. In
California, however, private property may be acquired
for economic development purposes only when there is a
finding that the project for which the property is
acquired will help eliminate "blight." Blight may
include physical deterioration, underutilization, or
adverse economic conditions.
The nuance here is how much physical deterioration,
underutilization, etc., is sufficient to establish
"blight." Is the elimination of "blight" really a
sufficient "public purpose" to justify the taking of
private property from one party and giving it to another
party for economic development purposes? If the
elimination of blight is the ultimate goal, code
compliance efforts, exterior rehabilitation grants, and
other programs may offer a superior solution.
It would be convenient to make absolute
pronouncements about the government's use of eminent
domain. But as with any constitutional issue, there are
nuances that make such unqualified statements difficult.
In some contexts-such as public infrastructure
improvements-eminent domain (as a last resort and only
after negotiations with the property owner fail) is a
necessary government tool. In other contexts, taking a
private residence for private redevelopment may be
difficult to justify.
One thing is clear: eminent domain is an
extraordinary government power that should be used only
in extraordinary cases and then only for limited
purposes. It is a tool to be used sparingly, as a last
resort, and only after the property owner has been
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Court Ruling Fuels Dispute in West Over Eminent Domain
Initiatives Challenge Land-Use Regulations
By Blaine Harden and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 2, 2006; A03
SEATTLE -- Libertarians and land developers have found
populist fodder in a contentious Supreme Court decision from
last year that favors eminent domain over private property.
This fall, they are trying to harness anger over the
ruling in an effort to pass state initiatives in the West
and federal legislation that could unravel a long-standing
fabric of state and local land-use regulations. Among other
things, the rules control growth, limit sprawl, ensure open
space and protect the environment.
The property-rights movement, as it is known, has a major
new benefactor -- Howard Rich, a wealthy libertarian real
estate investor from Manhattan. He has spent millions --
estimates run as high as $11 million -- to support
initiatives that will appear on ballots throughout much of
The initiatives -- and legislation approved Friday in the
House -- have alarmed many city and state officials, along
with environmental organizations, budget watchdog groups and
smart-growth advocates. They complain about
"They bait you with eminent domain, but you end up voting
to destroy all land-use regulation," said Elaine Clegg, a
nonpartisan member of the city council in Boise, Idaho.
Following the lead of an Oregon initiative that in 2004
derailed the nation's strongest laws against sprawl,
measures this November aim to do much the same thing in
Idaho, Arizona, California and Washington. They would compel
state and local governments to pay cash to property owners
when land-use rules, such as zoning regulations, reduce the
value of their land. Some of the measures say that if
government can't pay up, owners can develop their land as
they see fit.
In Oregon, there is no money to pay claims that total
$5.6 billion, so land-use rules are being waived. In
Washington, passage of a "pay-or-waive" initiative could
cost state taxpayers $7 billion to $8 billion in the next
few years, according to studies by the state and the
University of Washington. In California, where there is no
provision to waive payment, Proposition 90 has aroused
opposition from staunchly conservative groups such as the
California Taxpayers Association, which is concerned that
the initiative could cost the state billions of dollars,
triggering tax increases and slow growth.
The federal bill, which was approved in the House by a
vote of 231 to 181, would revamp land-use regulation
nationwide, allowing developers and property owners to
challenge local and state rulings in federal court, rather
than in state court.
The National Association of Home Builders has been
pushing the measure for years, but the Supreme Court's
eminent-domain decision finally "brought the bill back into
the limelight," said Jerry Howard, the association's chief
The bill's author,
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), who chairs the Judiciary
subcommittee on the Constitution, said property-rights
disputes that can drag on for years deserve speedy
resolution in federal court.
"The Fifth Amendment says you can't take a person's
property without due process," he said, comparing property
rights with freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
Opponents of the bill, including 36 attorneys general and
a slew of environmental advocates, say the measure will
undermine state and local governments' ability to oversee
growth and preserve open space.
In Idaho, a measure called Proposition 2 would halt
eminent-domain seizures of the kind allowed by the Supreme
Court in 2005 in Kelo v. New London . That ruling
upheld the right of local governments to condemn private
property and then hand it over to someone else for
commercial development. Since Kelo , 26 states have passed
laws that ban the use of eminent domain for economic
But the Idaho initiative, as with others in the West, is
about much more than just eminent domain. It would require
state and local governments to compensate landowners for
regulations that restrict what they can do with their land.
About three-fourths of the more than $330,000 spent to
put Proposition 2 on the ballot came from groups funded by
Rich, in a pattern of spending that has been repeated in
many Western states.
Groups bankrolled by Rich have this year spent about $11
million in 12 states in support of measures to restrict
land-use planning, cap state spending or limit judicial
power, according to state campaign finance reports compiled
by the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a Washington-based
group that is supported by labor.
Rich was not available to comment on his spending or the
goals of his property-rights groups.
John Tillman, president of one of those groups, Americans
for Limited Government, declined in an e-mail to comment on
the amount of Rich's spending, saying that campaign finance
reports "speak for themselves." He did not dispute the $11
Tillman did note that the Supreme Court decision in
Kelo has alarmed the public, putting "everyone on notice
that property rights are on shaky ground and that the time
to act is now."
In some states, grass-roots opposition to land-use rules
existed well before Kelo and before Rich began
spending money. For the past 15 years in Washington state,
the Washington Farm Bureau has fought laws that limit what
some farmers can do with their land in heavily populated
places such as King County, which includes Seattle.
In Oregon, which had been a national leader in land-use
planning, the consequences of rolling back the rules are
becoming clear. At last count, there were 3,038 claims by
property owners involving more than 173,000 acres, according
to a tally kept by Portland State University. Of the 2,630
claims that have been decided, 90 percent have gone in favor
of landowners, with state and local governments waiving
land-use rules. Most of the claims come from owners of what
had been protected farm and forest land bordering
fast-growing urban areas.
"The agenda behind these initiatives is to make it so
expensive for local and state governments to regulate land
use that they can hardly function at all," said John
Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown
Environmental Law and Policy Institute.
In recent weeks, courts in Nevada and Montana have
knocked some initiatives off ballots. The Nevada ruling was
on technical grounds, but a state judge in Great Falls,
Mont., found "a pervasive and general pattern of fraud" in
the gathering of signatures for three ballot measures aimed
at reining in government power.
"A number of paid out-of-state signature gatherers used
bait-and-switch tactics to fraudulently induce countless
Montanans to sign petitions other than the petitions they
thought they were signing," wrote Judge Dirk M. Sandefur.
The ruling has been appealed to the Montana Supreme
Court. Nearly all of the money for signature gatherers came
from Montanans in Action, which declines to reveal its
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) has said that Rich is
bankrolling the measures and has challenged him to debate
their merits. Rich has not responded to this request nor to
a similar debate offer from Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) of
Oregon, where Rich's money has been instrumental in putting
a spending-cap initiative on the ballot.
© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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In November, 12 states have initiatives on the ballot that seek to protect private property against seizure and regulation.
By Ben Arnoldy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
A backlash among voters this November against an unpopular Supreme Court decision on eminent domain could dramatically curtail the ability of officials to manage growth and development in parts of the western United States.
Libertarian activists, tapping into voter anger as well as outside money, have helped propel property rights referendums onto 12 state ballots - making it the single biggest ballot issue this November.
Most of the measures aim to overrule a 2005 US Supreme Court decision that homes can be seized and handed over to private developers. But in some Western states, the eminent domain issue is coupled with other far reaching provisions that would force governments to pay landowners when regulations harm property values.
At stake is the momentum of "smart growth" planning in recent decades that has provided public interests like open space and environmental protection at the expense of private property owners. Supporters of the changes say they want those costs made transparent, while opponents argue that individual property rights, if unfettered, will trample on the rights of neighbors and the collective good.
"Urban growth boundaries, agricultural protection ordinances, wetlands regulations, historic district rules - just about any kind of land-use rule would be more vulnerable to litigation if the [regulatory takings] measures were adopted," says John Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute in Washington. "[The West] would be a lot more polluted, it would be a lot more congested, and it would be a lot less green if these measures were enacted."
Prior to the high court's decision on eminent domain in Kelo v. New London last year, Oregon, in 2004, enacted Measure 37, a law requiring local and state governments to compensate landowners when regulations decreased the value of their properties. Ballot initiatives in California, Arizona, Idaho, and Washington are loosely based on Measure 37. If governments cannot pay, some measures call for granting individuals exemptions from the rules.
In Oregon, the 2,446 claims already filed with the state would cost more than $5.7 billion to reimburse, according to the Department of Land Conservation and Development. None have been paid, says Michael Morrissey with the department. "Measure 37 didn't identify any new revenue source to pay for claims. So that means for those claims we judge to be valid, the issue is only waiver of regulation."
Such waivers have created some unusual dilemmas.
In Clackamas County, a landowner used Measure 37 to get a waiver for agricultural zoning restrictions that prevented a commercial gravel pit operation. One neighbor suddenly faced the prospect of a rock crusher just a few hundred feet from his home.
Another neighbor, an elderly couple trying to sell their adjacent farm, saw a $1.3 million offer collapse on account of the proposed pit, says their son, Scott Lay. He had voted for Measure 37, but now finds himself ambivalent. He warns voters in other states to "really consider how far that measure could extend into the property rights of the neighbor. The impact doesn't stop with that property, it extends beyond."
In another case, a pumice mine and power plant may be built inside Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon if one longtime landowner gets his way.
"If putting up mining operations in national monuments seems too bizarre to contemplate, look again at Oregon because that's what [voters elsewhere] could get," says Bob Stacey, executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon, a land-use watchdog group.
Supporters of laws like Measure 37 cite the Constitution's Fifth Amendment, which prohibits taking private property for public use without just compensation. Land-use restrictions, they say, unfairly "take" part of the property's value without paying the owner.
"By not compensating landowners ... you are essentially forcing a minority of landowners - the private property owners - to bear the cost of providing [a] public benefit," says Leonard Gilroy, a senior policy analyst with the libertarian Reason Foundation in Los Angeles.
In recent decades, land-use restrictions have burgeoned in many states as strategies to manage growth. Oregon stood at the forefront of that movement before Measure 37. Mr. Gilroy says the measure is an indication that urban planning isn't sustainable without incorporating property rights into the policy framework.
"Measure 37 was passed by the Oregon voters who still strongly support their state's system of land-use regulation. They've just realized that it's had these severe economic consequences on private property owners ... [and] they wanted to rebalance the equation," says Gilroy.
But critics of laws like Measure 37 argue that they create profound imbalances by putting the rights of a few developers over those of the great majority: homeowners. Zoning rules and other land-use protections, they say, protect the value of homes.
The court decision that evicted Susette Kelo from her Connecticut home has helped campaigners connect with voters.
"As soon as I brought up the little old lady in New London, Connecticut, it just clicked with everybody," says Eric Dondero, a libertarian Republican consultant from Texas who gathered signatures for Montana's 'Kelo-plus' ballot measure.
He received payments from an outside group chaired by New York City real estate magnate Howie Rich. "But there were a lot of people that wanted to read the whole wording and I said, 'Here it is.' And they would read everything."
Mr. Dondero says the regulatory takings aspect wasn't controversial for any of the voters with whom he interacted. But he did meet stiff resistance, he says, from local officials and other operatives whom he claims tried to physically block and intimidate signature gatherers.
Countercharges of signature-gathering fraud prompted a Montana judge to throw out the property rights ballot measure. Dondero denies that there were irregularities from his camp, noting also that out-of-state money was used to gather signatures for liberal measures. The case is under appeal.
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|Posted on Sun, Oct. 08, 2006
Kelo backlash puts property rights measures
on the ballots
12 states to decide
government's role in zoning disputes
New York Times
- More than a year after Suzette Kelo
and several of her neighbors in New London,
Conn., lost their battle against eminent domain
in the U.S. Supreme Court, the reaction against
the ruling has made property rights one of the
most closely watched ballot issues nationwide.
Thirty state legislatures have enacted
restrictions on eminent domain in response to
the ruling. Now voters here and in 11 other
states will consider property rights measures in
Most of the measures would limit eminent
domain to some degree, while others, in Western
states, would go further, imposing new
restrictions on government's ability to enforce
In the Kelo case, the court ruled that
government could transfer private land from one
owner to another for the sake of economic
development. But the court said that states were
free to change their laws.
Opponents of the measures predict years of
court fights if the measures pass.
"This thing is an abomination, the way it's
written, the way it's being sold," said Nils
Ribi, a City Council member in Sun Valley who
opposes the Idaho measure.
Supporters of the ballot efforts in the West
- often called "Kelo-plus" - say they want to
stop so-called regulatory takings, the idea that
government effectively takes private property
when zoning laws limit how it can be used.
Opponents say the regulatory-takings
initiatives are essentially a ruse, that they
are trying to exploit anger over the Kelo
decision to roll back zoning regulations that
are critical to controlling growth, protecting
the environment and preserving property values.
Affluent outsiders have been drawn to Idaho
in recent decades, lured by technology jobs,
mountain recreation and abundant sunshine. Boise
has boomed, as has Sun Valley, where newcomers
from California build second homes not far from
ranchers who herd sheep over the Sawtooth
Mountains. About two-thirds of Idaho land is
under federal control, and frustration runs deep
in rural areas with newcomers who, after buying
their piece of paradise, try to restrict land
use further in the name of preservation and
Rob Struthers, 59, a rancher here, said: "Now
all these people come in and say, 'Wow, what a
beautiful place.' But they don't trust us to
keep it that way. Instead of rewarding us,
they're penalizing us."
Back to Top
The Christian Science Monitor's View
from the October 25, 2006 edition
Threaten hearth and home, as a Supreme Court ruling on property rights did last year, and Americans will run to bar the door. Since the "Kelo" ruling, 30 states have passed laws to better protect property owners. Now the issue is on a dozen state ballots, making it the No. 1 initiative topic in the US.
The speed with which the states reacted is breathtaking - an expression of the outrage Americans felt when the High Court ruled in June 2005 that it was OK for New London, Conn., to take the home of Susette Kelo to make way for a private commercial project that would produce jobs and tax revenue.
The Fifth Amendment allows for government takings of private property for public use - if owners are justly compensated. What set radio talk shows abuzz was the court's broad interpretation of "public use" to allow "public purpose." It wasn't just building of public schools and roads that could justify takings, or eminent domain, but private economic development deemed beneficial to the public.
Americans understandably have a reflex reaction against anything that endangers property rights. These rights reflect bedrock values of individual freedom and economic opportunity. Nothing affirms the American dream like ownership of a home or business.
That's why the High Court, despite its ruling, also invited states to enact laws to rein in this type of eminent domain. Most states hopped right to it. And mostly, they've been fairly smart about it.
The states ran in the same direction. They generally make it more difficult for government bodies to seize private property strictly for economic development and tax-enhancing purposes, or to sell to a private entity. But the laws are far from uniform.
Several states placed an absolute ban on takings for economic development or for a private entity. Unfortunately, bans can be overly restrictive. Better to include some exceptions, as many states have.
A common one is for blight. Some states have wisely redefined blight to mean property that is a threat to public health or safety. For too long, loosely defined blight has been a loophole for governments eager to develop a block that's merely an eyesore or outdated.
Several states (but not enough) have worked to open up the eminent domain process so that owners have more advanced notice or a better appeals process. The new Missouri law, for instance, establishes an ombudsman for property owners. A few other states now offer more than fair-market value as compensation for takings - a recognition of economic loss, and of the burden of an unexpected move.
One unwise trend: ballot initiatives in some Western states to compensate property owners for lost value due to government regulation or zoning. Governments must be free to address issues such as sprawl and environmental protection - with proper community input. Oregon, which recently adopted a "regulatory takings" measure, is now saddled with more than 2,400 claims of over $5.7 billion - an impossible burden.
Zoning is not the same as bulldozing a home, and shouldn't be treated as such. These ballot initiatives, known as "Kelo-plus," should get a big negative from voters.
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'SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT' THE EVIL FACING AMERICA
By Tom DeWeese
My friends, we
come here today from many walks of life. A wide
variety of reasons got each of us started on the
road to activism.
Some of us
started simply because we noticed something funny
about our child's curriculum in school. Some of us
were outraged by government trying to take away our
guns. A good many of us suddenly found government
agents and members of private groups plotting to
take away our land. Some have had their livestock
confiscated. Some have found themselves facing jail
just for doing what their fathers and grandfathers
have done on the same land for decades.
Some of us just
wanted to be allowed to go to church, pray to God
and celebrate Christmas without being fined for it.
A few of us would even like to be able to go to a
restaurant and order food we like - even if it is
greasy, fattening and full of carbs and calories.
All of us just
want to live in an America where our rights and
pursuit of happiness is protected. And so we fight.
And now we've found ourselves here today in a room
with hundreds of others in the same boat.
I have one
thing to tell you. You are not going to win. Because
the other side has cut us up into little pieces.
They've divided us and conquered us.
succeeded because you think your fight is against
gun control. Because you think your fight is against
bad schools. Because you think your fight is against
the Endangered Species Act and roadless programs,
and wetlands regulations, and water rights and
Heritage Areas. Because you think your fight is
against Democrats and not Republicans. Because you
think it's a fight between evil liberals and good
Your fight is against a well-planned, well
orchestrated agenda for the complete transformation
of America. And unless you learn that fact now,
today... and unless you fully educate yourselves to
every aspect of that agenda and fight it on the
proper terms… then you cannot win!
I'm here to
tell you that every one of these issues you are
facing is interrelated. There is an agenda being
implemented before your very eyes. It's called
And I will tell
you now, if you want to keep your guns, your
property, your children and your God… if you love
liberty… Then Sustainable Development is your enemy!
So what is
Sustainable Development? Imagine an America in which
a specific "ruling principle" is created to decide
proper societal conduct for every citizen.
would be used to consider everything you eat, what
you wear, the kind of homes you live in, the method
of transportation used to get to work, the way you
dispose of waste, perhaps the number of children you
may have, even your education and employment
Sustainable Development is that "ruling
principle" for the implementation of what former
Vice President Al Gore said we must all suffer
through in order to purify our nation from the
horrors of the Twentieth Century's industrial
In his book,
"Earth in the Balance," Gore called it a "wrenching
transformation of society." Those are pretty
powerful words that should concern anyone who values
liberty. It's a warning that the rules are changing.
That a new power elite is taking control.
Perhaps you are
beginning to notice such changes as you go about
your daily routine, but haven't understood where
those changes, and the ideas behind them, are coming
from. But Sustainable Development is a very
difficult concept to grasp. It's written in an
almost foreign language - designed to mislead and
refrain from alarming you.
Let me put it
in the simplest language I possibly can. The Atkins
Diet is not sustainable. Now, why do I say that?
Because on page 350 of the UN's Global Biodiversity
Assessment Report it says that the grazing of
livestock, including cows, sheep, goats and horses
is not sustainable. One reason for that concept is
because Sustainablists contend that the animals
pollute and damage the banks of streams.
Getting us to
stop eating beef is a major effort needed to fully
implement the Sustainable Agenda. Since they are
cowards who fear your reaction to an outright
banning of eating meat, they have to try to trick
you into thinking that not eating meat is your idea.
So they use scare tactics. For years they have told
you that eating meat raises your cholesterol. Fat is
bad for you. Meat causes heart attacks. With PeTA's
help they were succeeding in turning us all into
little sissies eating salads.
comes Dr. Atkins who shows us that a low carb beef
diet will help you lose weight in a healthy way.
Suddenly the nation has gone Atkins crazy. Beef
sales are sky rocketing. The Sustainablists are in a
tail spin. They've lost control of your eating
Now watch what
they are doing to get you back on track. Suddenly
reports are being published in leading women's
magazines about Atkins being dangerous to your
health. Lawsuits have begun to pop up against the
Do you see how
it works? That's how the Sustainable Development
agenda is implemented. Behavior modification based
on fear. Freedom of choice is not part of
Sustainable Development. And so I repeat, - the
Atkins Diet is not sustainable.
you'll understand why there are Sustainable
Development papers, guidelines and regulations to
impose the ruling principle:
public education system - to prepare our children to
live in a sustainable world.
economy - to create partnerships between business
and government, making sure business becomes a tool
to help implement the policies.
environment - leading to controls on private
property and business.
health care - the new drive against obesity is
leading directly toward controls on what we eat.
farming - Sustainable Development policies affect
farmers' ability to produce more crops by regulating
or banning precious chemicals, biotechnology and
genetic engineering in the name of environmental
social and cultural environment - where political
correctness is controlling policy hiring practices,
immigration policy, multiculturalism, marriage laws,
mobility - with emphasis on carpools and public
transportation and away from the freedom of personal
public safety - where the rule of law and the court
system is being challenged by new regulations that
affect the right to privacy and unreasonable search
to understand that these leading issues we face
today are not just random concerns that find their
way into the forefront of political debate. They are
all interconnected to the policies of Sustainable
And you must
understand that Sustainable Development is the
official policy of the government of the United
States of America - and every state, city and small
burg in the nation.
completely bi-partisan. It is being equally
implemented by Republicans and Democrats. No matter
the outcome of any election - the Sustainable
Development agenda moves forward unabated.
What we are
telling you here today, my friends, is that
Sustainable Development isn't just some land use
policy. It is a complete transformation of American
society; away from the rule of law; away from the
ideals of property ownership, free enterprise, free
travel and even free association.
Sustainable Development. It's a life plan.
Planned by someone else. Not you.
Development is not a myth, or a theory or a
conspiracy - as I've heard some in our own movement
1970's literally hundreds of issue papers, charters,
guidelines and treaties have been presented at
scores of international meetings, each becoming a
building block in the creation of what would
eventually become Sustainable Development.
Finally in 1992
the UN's Earth Summit in Brazil brought all of these
ideas together in two major documents called "Agenda
21" and the "Biodiversity Treaty." Here the ideas
were officially presented to world leaders that all
government on every level, needed to be transformed
into top-down control over housing, food production,
energy, water, private property education,
population control, gun control, transportation,
social welfare, medical care, and literally every
aspect of our lives.
To get the full
picture, add to these the UN's Convention on the
Rights of the Child and the Convention on the
elimination of all forms of discrimination against
women, both of which create UN-mandates on abortion,
child rearing and government interference on
President Clinton created the President's Council on
Sustainable Development. From that Council came a
flood of policy papers and recommendations to
enforce it as government policy.
And the Clinton
Administration didn't need Congress to get into the
act. All Cabinet officials had to do was change some
wording of existing programs and reroute
already-approved funding to begin to implement the
agenda - without Congress and without debate. Former
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown told a meeting of the
President's Council that he could implement 67% of
the Sustainable Development agenda in his agency
with no new legislation. Other agencies like
Interior, EPA, HUD and more did the same thing. To
help it all along, Clinton issued a blizzard of
Heritage Rivers Initiative was born that way. So
were roadless policies designed to stop logging in
national forests. National parks have become core
biosphere reserves designed to shut out any human
activity. And the buffer zones around them are
designed to shut off existing human activity,
allowing the core to continually grow like a cancer
excuse to control human development or activities
began to sprout up - from rails-to trails bikeways -
to wet lands regulations - to historic preservation
projects. Endangered species, real or made up, have
been used to close down industry and steal private
lands. Valuable natural resources have been locked
away in national parks and preserves.
In this way an
international agenda to transform the world into
global governance under Sustainable Development
policy took hold and became official policy of the
United States of America.
Back to Top
As the American Policy Center steps up
its war against Sustainable Development and
the UN’s Agenda 21, many readers have asked
me to supply an overview of the issue. To
answer that request, I have gone to the
foremost expert in the nation on the
subjects of Sustainable Development and
Agenda 21—Henry Lamb.
Below is a series of articles written by
Henry back in 1996. These are the articles
that first taught me about Sustainable
Development. The only update necessary is to
point out that most of what Henry warned
about has now taken place. Every single
community in the nation is now developing "sustainablism."
Read them, as I did years ago, learn, and
begin the fight to take back your
Sustainable Communities—Vanquished Freedom
By Henry Lamb
"Sustainability" is a term that is just
beginning to reach Joe A. Citizen; in the
months and years ahead, it will dominate
virtually every aspect of American life.
Since the concept was first defined in the
1987 report by Gro Harlem Brundtland
(Vice-president of the World Socialist
Party), it has swelled into a tidal wave
that is washing across the world and has now
crashed onto American shores and will soon
inundate every American Community.
The "sustainability" paradigm rests upon the
firm belief, as expressed by the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), that: "Humanity's collective
imperative now is to shift modern society
rapidly onto a sustainable path or have it
dissolve of its own ecologically
unsustainable doings." The same document,
prepared for the World Bank and for the
United Nations Habitat II Conference in
Istanbul, says that society has two choices.
"One choice is to go as we go and do as we
do." Or, "We shift our consumption,
extraction and harvesting patterns and
technologies; reframe our ethical choices,"
and reshape and redesign planned communities
"within the dictates of natural ecology."
The first choice, which to some may sound
like freedom "to go as we go and do as we
do," is the unsustainable, unethical choice,
according to HUD. The ethical choice is:
"The vision for `Community Sustainability,'
defined as the condition of social, economic
and ecological harmony that people require,
deserve and must create where they live, if
their lives and their inheritors' lives are
to be meaningful, wholesome and hopeful."
Joe A. Citizen, who now is pretty much free
to go as he goes and do as he does, might be
surprised to learn that HUD considers his
life meaningless, unwholesome, and hopeless.
The HUD document, the report of the
President's Council on Sustainable
Development (PCSD), as well as the United
Nations documents that call for the drastic
reorganization of society, all claim that:
"By science's consensus we have but decades
to recast the ways we operate as a modern
society with respect to earth's natural
ecological systems of support." Instead of
producing specific, peer-reviewed scientific
evidence to support such claims, the
"precautionary principle" is offered, which
says that if a serious threat is thought to
exist, action must be taken even in the face
of scientific uncertainty.
Every alleged ecological calamity—global
warming, population explosion, and
biodiversity loss—is widely challenged
throughout the scientific community. For
every scientist on the calamity bandwagon,
there is another scientist of equal stature
to refute the allegations. At the very
least, society should be aware that there is
no scientific consensus to justify the
dramatic changes that are planned.
Proponents of sustainability label
detractors as unethical, and continue the
push to recast society into planned
communities, managed through an evolving
system of "good governance" that dilutes the
authority of elected officials and elevates
the power of NGOs (non-government
The objective of "sustainability" is to
integrate economic, social, and
environmental policies to achieve reduced
consumption, social equity, and to preserve
and restore biodiversity. "Sustainable
communities" is but one facet of a much
broader sustainable agenda. It is the
initiative that will touch most Americans
first, and in fact, is already being
advanced throughout communities across the
country. The U.S. Forest Service has awarded
$700,000 to the Chicago Region Biodiversity
Council, a collaborative effort of 34
federal agencies and environmental groups,
established to begin the process of making
Chicagoland into a "sustainable community."
Similar processes are underway, funded by
government and private foundations, all
across America. The PCSD recommends that tax
money be used to provide incentives to
communities that engage in collaborative
community planning for sustainability, and
that funding authorized under other federal
programs be denied or delayed for
communities that are slow to begin the
collaborative process toward sustainability.
Originated by the United Nations, embraced
by the Clinton-Gore administration,
implemented by an army of coordinated NGOs,
the tidal wave of "sustainability" is
crashing across America. Most Americans have
not seen the warnings and will not recognize
the dangers until they are drowning in
Sustainable Communities: Yours Could Be Next
If your community has a population of 50,000
or more, someone is working to create a
"sustainability council," or it has already
been done. Smaller communities, your time
will come—soon. The federal government, in
collaboration with selected NGOs, is
encouraging the creation of local
"sustainability councils" which are to
become the driving force in the
reorganization of society. These councils
may have a variety of names. Regardless of
the name, however, their function is
pre-planned, their procedures are
pre-conceived, and the outcome of their work
is pre-determined. Your community is about
to be reorganized, according to the
Department of Housing and Urban Development,
so your life will be "meaningful,
wholesome, and hopeful," whether you
like it or not.
The initiative in your community could come
from any federal agency through a grant to a
municipality or directly to an NGO. Or the
initiative could be funded by a private
foundation and coordinated by an NGO. By
using a variety of start-up mechanisms and
an assortment of names, the well-coordinated
effort disguises the appearance of the
massive federal/international social
re-engineering project that is underway.
The council, by whatever name, will enlist
the support of all relevant local, state,
and federal government agencies, then add
representatives from the academic community,
carefully selected individuals from the
business community, and the leaders of
cooperating NGOs. This phase is usually
completed before the community at large
knows it has been done. Frequently, the
first few meetings of the council will be
attended only by invited guests, chosen from
the membership lists of participating NGOs,
or for some other strategic purpose.
Sympathetic individuals in the media will
have been provided background material and
enlisted to support the effort. Most
community residents will become aware of the
effort through a 60-second TV news item or a
brief story in the local newspaper. The
story will make it appear that the entire
community has come together to solve common
problems and build a beautiful future.
Exactly what that future includes will not
be revealed. Each of the reorganizational
components will be revealed over time, only
as necessary, to avoid the inevitable
backlash from private citizens as they learn
how their lives will be impacted. The work
of the council is to devise whatever
mechanisms may be necessary to achieve
several objectives: reduce
consumption—especially energy; restore
biodiversity through an ecosystem management
approach; stop urban sprawl; and convince
local residents that they are "unethical" if
they fail to support whatever it takes to
achieve these objectives, through massive,
coordinated re-education and propaganda
Here is a picture of your community when it
has been reorganized to become
"sustainable," taken from HUD's report to
the United Nations:
For this hopeful future we may envision
an entirely fresh set of infrastructures
that use fully automated, very light,
elevated rail systems for daytime metro
region travel and nighttime goods
movement, such as have been
conceptualized and being positioned for
production at the University of
Minnesota in Minneapolis; we will see
all settlements linked up by extensive
bike, recreation and agro-forestry
"E-ways" (environment-ways) such as in
Madison, Wisconsin; we will find
healthy, productive soils where there is
decline and erosion through the
widespread use of remineralization from
igneous and volcanic rock sources (much
of it the surplus quarry fines or "rockdust,"
from concrete and asphalt-type road
construction or from reservoir silts);
we will be growing foods, dietary
supplements and herbs that make over our
unsustainable reliance upon foods and
medicines that have adverse soil,
environmental, or health side-effects;
less and less land will go for animal
husbandry and more for grains, tubers,
and legumes. Gradually, decent standards
of equity will be in place for women,
for children and for the disadvantaged;
the "peace dividend" will be forced upon
us as the insane costs of military
armament become challenged globally.
The purpose of the "sustainability council"
is to give the appearance that the
reorganization of society is the result of
local initiative and reflects local desires.
The fact of the matter is that how you are
to live in your own community has been
determined in Gland, Switzerland, confirmed
by the United Nations in Rio de Janeiro,
embraced by Al Gore in Washington, and is
now being imposed upon you in the name of
Sustainable Communities in the Bioregion
The Sierra Club has proposed the
reorganization of North America into 21
bioregions delineated by their ecological
March/April, 1994). Each bioregion includes
several states, counties, municipalities,
and communities. The "sustainable
communities" initiative is the first
building-block toward the construction of
bioregions and the total reorganization of
America into a "sustainable" society as
envisioned by the United Nations.
Sustainable communities must be seen in the
context of the broader, published agenda,
which limits privately owned property to no
more than 25% of the total land area,
removes human populations from at least 50%
of the total land area, and requires that
the remaining land be managed by
government/NGO partnerships. The Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
suggests that the time frame for
reorganizing sustainable societies can be no
more than three decades. Others believe it
will take 50 to 100 years. Whatever the time
frame, the process has begun with the
sustainable communities initiative.
Each community, regardless of size, will
have its own "sustainability council." A
common characteristic of these councils is
that they are dominated by individuals from
government agencies charged with the
implementation of the government's
sustainability agenda, supported by
representatives from NGOs whose salaries are
paid by grants from the federal government
or by cooperating foundations. Local
government officials, who are enticed by
incentive grants from the feds, and local
residents are typically outnumbered and
outmaneuvered. The first function of the
sustainability council is to complete the
"visioning" process. This process produces a
document that describes how the community
should be organized to achieve the goals
required to make the community sustainable.
In the context of bioregions, individual
communities cannot be left to design their
own future. HUD says "there will be the
linking up of networks of communities of
varied sizes within quite varied and
multiple regional contexts, such as
`community constellations' linked by
compacts based upon common interests.
Between communities will be rural
landscapes—highly functional landscapes—
based upon entirely fresh understandings of
landscape ecology and its integral
relationship to the sustainability of
Translated into plain English, this means
that sustainability councils will coordinate
their "visions" to achieve a regional or
bioregional vision consistent with the
ultimate outcome that has already been
determined. To achieve the predetermined
outcome, some smaller communities will have
to be completely shut down. That process is
already underway in the northwest and other
parts of the country near federal forests
and public lands. By banning logging on
public lands, as the Sierra Club has
proposed, residents of logging-dependent
communities have no choice but to move out
to find new sources of income. By denying
grazing and mining permits, still more
communities are evacuated and gobbled up by
the wilderness required by the bioregional
It is the mid-size communities, suburbs, and
bedroom communities that will feel the next
crunch. These are the communities that are
described as "urban sprawl" which is to be
stopped. These are the communities that have
devastated "greenfields" and are destroying
ecosystems. Visions of sustainable
communities will put an immediate stop to
future geographical growth. The vision
documents will also reveal a planned
reduction or elimination of infrastructure
support to communities outside the
"approved" area of urbanization. Financing
for activities outside the approved "greenlined"
area will become impossible. Land use
restrictions outside the approved area will
tighten. Farming outside the approved
"management" areas will become impossible,
and people who choose to live outside the
approved sustainability ethic will be
ridiculed and made to feel inferior. People
who do not get on the sustainability
bandwagon can expect to be treated very much
like the people who choose to smoke
The common thread that weaves the various
councils together is the NGO. Coordinated by
their national and international
headquarters, and fueled by federal and
foundation funding, NGOs will see that the
various community vision documents mesh into
a bioregional vision that is consistent with
the global agenda.
When your community's sustainability council
is formed, look for a representative from
the Sierra Club, whose International Vice
President, Michelle Perrault, is a member of
the President's Council on Sustainable
Development, and whose Board member, Dave
Foreman, is largely responsible for
developing "The Wildlands Project," the
master plan for bioregions.
Sustainable Communities Means Managed
sustainable development, sustainable
agriculture—is not simply a comprehensive
approach to environmental protection. The
recurring theme throughout the
sustainability literature is the integration
of "economic, equity, and environmental"
policies. That grandiose language is
translated by specific policy
recommendations which use the environment as
an excuse to manage the economy to achieve
social equity. Throughout the literature,
terms such as "harness market forces"
describe proposals to impose consumption
taxes on products that "management" deems to
be unsustainable. Air conditioning,
convenience foods, single-family housing,
and cars are among the products already
determined to be unsustainable. "Equity"
means forcing those who produce an income to
provide for those who do not. "Environmental
protection" means constraining individual
freedom to accommodate "management" to
prevent the impending impoverishment of the
"Management" is not the government. The
government is simply the instrument for
enforcing the dictates of management.
Management is actually the NGOs, headed by
the big three—the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); the World
Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); and the World
Resources Institute (WRI). These three NGOs
have set the ideological agenda. They have
created a world-wide network of affiliated
NGOs, well-positioned and adequately funded
to implement the agenda. And they are
acquiring the legal status to manage
national, state, and local governments, as
well as the lives of individual citizens.
Sustainability councils, dominated by NGOs
and public officials paid to implement the
sustainability policy, are being formed in
every community. These councils coordinate
their activity with regional councils also
dominated by NGOs. Ultimately, each
bioregion is to have a bioregional council
to coordinate, or manage, the activities
within the bioregion. The function of
governments within the bioregion will be
simply to enforce the dictates of the
council. Ultimate enforcement is to come
from the United Nations.
Official documents now published by the UN
call for the creation of a Petitions
Council, and an Assembly of the People, both
selected from representatives of accredited
NGOs. The function of the Assembly of the
People is to review resolutions of the
General Assembly. The function of the
Petitions Council is to review compliance
petitions from bioregional councils and
direct the petitions to the appropriate
agency within the UN for enforcement. All of
the environment—including private
property—is to be placed under the
"trusteeship" of the UN Trusteeship Council,
consisting of no more than 23 individuals
selected from accredited NGOs. The existing
World Trade Organization as well as the
proposed Economic Security Council, have
unlimited authority to impose a wide range
of sanctions—including military action by a
standing UN army—against any nation deemed
to be not in compliance with any treaty or
The Law of the Seas Treaty has already
created the International Seabed Authority
which has legal jurisdiction over all
non-territorial waters. Anyone wishing to
salvage a shipwreck or harvest ocean
resources must obtain a permit and pay
annual royalties. Application fees may be a
quarter-million dollars or more, and
unspecified royalties are authorized by the
treaty. The United States has not ratified
the treaty, but Secretary of State, Warren
Christopher, told a Stanford University
audience on April 9, that ratification of
the Law of the Seas Treaty and the
Biodiversity Treaty would be top priority
items on the Clinton/Gore agenda for 1997.
The plan for a world-wide, managed society
is in place, published extensively in the
literature of the United Nations . The plan
is so massive, so complex, so bizarre, that
it is difficult to comprehend in its
totality . The public has seen only small
segments of the plan at any one time . The
various world conferences over the past four
years have drawn only limited publicity for
a short time. The President's Council on
Sustainable Development has conducted its
work in a public vacuum. And any negative
discussion about the UN or about the
environment is quickly denied and cast aside
by the administration and the media as
nothing more than the rantings of right-wing
extremist wackos. All the while, day by day,
the plan unfolds. In every community, a net
is being deployed to surround every
American. Over the next few years, expect
the net to be slowly drawn around all
individual freedoms, and tightened
relentlessly until the managed activities of
human beings produce the sustainability
envisioned by the international managers.
Henry Lamb is the executive vice
president of the Environmental Conservation
Organization and chairman of Sovereignty
American Policy Center
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SC County should protect property rights
Tree ordinance will trample on rights of Greenville residents
Radical environmentalists in Greenville County are proposing an
ordinance that would dictate to private property owners which
trees they could cut, and if cutting is allowed by regulators,
the kind and how many trees they would be required to replant,
and how much of their private property to leave for public
"Our culture is not just the sum total of the choice free
Americans make; it's the sum total of the choice they are given.
It is a force like economics." (Tom Jerrod)
When government and nongovernment organizations are allowed
to interfere with private property rights, they interfere with
basic constitutional rights and the free enterprise system. One
of the greatest responsibilities of government is to protect
citizens' private property rights.
Karl Marx, father of communism, stated in his "Communist
Manifesto," there is no God. Also in the manifesto, he set forth
a thesis that capitalism, the right to own property and to be
productive for self-enhancement, was wrong. The synthesis is
Marxism, socialism or communism, wherein the state would own or
control the land.
Sustainable development, a United Nations program (Agenda
21), encompasses every aspect of American life. The United
Nations recognizes that the United States, with its
constitutionally guaranteed property rights, would have to be
subdued gradually. Government and nongovernment organizations
realize they will be unable to overtly rescind property rights
in America and have adopted a devious plan to buy up land,
frequently using taxpayer funds, thus removing land from private
Restricting the rights of private property owners can also be
accomplished by intrusive zoning, land-use planning, Vision
2025, smart growth, environmental easements, rails to trails,
designing our destiny and tree ordinances, to restrict the
property rights of citizens until total control of land can be
Other facts to consider that were omitted by the proponents
of the tree ordinance:
Spring and fall tree pollen in the Greenville area is a
major health problem for citizens suffering with asthma,
emphysema, hay fever and other respiratory illnesses.
The highest flood level in the Greenville area occurred in
1907 (100-year flood level), which greatly exceeded the levels
we experienced in recent years. It is interesting to note that
lack of trees, clear-cutting and major development had little or
nothing to do with the 1907 flood.
Greater Greenville has a negative inversion factor due to
its close proximity to Paris Mountain. Ozone in the lower
atmosphere negatively impacts our heath and increases air
pollution. Ozone is created when volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
are mixed with nitrogen oxides. The primary source of VOCs in
our area is from off-gassing compounds from trees during their
natural growth. Fifty percent of VOCs in our area comes from
trees and natural sources. Other sources of nitrogen oxides are
from natural gas combustion and automobiles.
We recommend the following for any resolution or changes in
the tree ordinance:
The Home Builders Association should establish a committee
made up of its members to make recommendations concerning future
Include provisions to hold property owners responsible for
trees on their property. Falling trees or tree limbs are
responsible for major damage to power lines resulting in power
outages affecting citizens' homes and businesses. The tree
owners should be required to pay for removing the tree, cost of
power line repair and losses incurred by businesses. Other power
customers should not be required to pay for restoration of power
for the irresponsibility and negligence of others.
Any tree ordinance should be voted on by a countywide
George Washington, our greatest president, stated, "How soon
we forget history. Government is not reason. Government is not
eloquent. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant
and a fearful master."
We urge each County Council member to resist unnecessary
intrusion on the rights of private property owners.
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