Flushing personal property rights
Thursday, 11 May 2006
I just spent a couple of hours reading over court documents posted on the website www.mapletoncoalition.com/ . Let me tell you what I think they say.
- The land in question is privately owned
- The owners of the land want to develop it for residential use.
- The owners of the land want to restrict who uses the land.
- Mapleton City wants a 10 foot wide access across it for the supposed purpose of emergency access, but they want to allow use to the public.
- Mapleton City doesn't want the land to be developed for residential use.
- Both sides have been using legal means to further their goals
Residents of Mapleton should be worried about a couple of things. In fact alot of people should be aware of this.
Government doesn't exist independently of citizens. Government is or at least should be, a group of individuals who represents the best interests of all citizenry. So when we say that Mapleton City wants a ten foot wide section of the "Gibby Property" and Mapleton City doesn't want the "Gibby Property" developed, by extension it should be fair to say that you as a citizen of this community don't want the "Gibby Property" developed and that you want a ten foot wide section of the "Gibby Property". While this may be true you may want those things (the extension of them being a pristine view of the mountain and a continuation of the "Bonneville Shoreline Trail), it isn't right for us to take those things away from the legal owners of that property.
Those wise men who framed our Nation and wrote the Constitution gave our government the legal right to take land away from private citizens for the public good. The right to do so is called eminent domain. There is no doubt that this right is absolutely necessary, however, there is also no doubt that this right should be reserved for extreme circumstances. Wisdom and judgment should be the watchwords of it's use. Recently across our nation there have been numerous abuses of this right of our government. More correctly there have been broader definitions of "public good". One case recently caused some uproar when the Supreme Court found in favor of the municipality and against the home owners. There was a story about it in the Washington Post.
It is easy to for us to see the public good in this case before us. It is however a bit harder to see the other side of the scenario. What if the "public good" was a park to be put on your block. Undoubtedly it would be for the public good. Kids would have a safe place to play. Is it absolutely necessary? No, but it is for the public good. What if city officials bulldozed your fence to make sure everybody had access to it?? What if the city only bulldozed your fence and left your neighbors fence standing? Would you have the courage to stand up to the government alone? Would you want your neighbors to stand up with you? Do you have enough money to fight the legal battles that the city will start? What if the city started using schoolyard-bullying tactics? Could you stand the embarrassment of arrest? What if the charges were trumped up? How would you react? Would there be a counter-suit?
Mapleton City officers, officials, and appointees work for the citizens of this city. By our silence we are giving them the go ahead to do this to another of our fellow-citizens. It isn't okay. Somebody needs to say "Enough!". This has gone on long enough. If the elected officials won't step up and say "we were wrong" and fix what they have done, the citizens of Mapleton have the responsibility to tell them that enough time, money, resources and emotion have been wasted on this, and help them to see that the city is on the wrong side of this. Allowing this to escalate further is in nobody's best interest. Either Dr. Gibby wins and we get stuck with the bill or the city wins and we all lose rights. Whichever way it goes we as citizens of Mapleton lose. Let's get this stopped and start being a community again.