Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Fayette's zoning laws subjective, arbitrary, confiscatory; what about rights?

I am sick and tired of hearing about Fayette County zoning from Bob Craft and his like. Consider the following.

1. Bob would like to pass a law limiting immigration to Fayette County. Bob or some bureaucrat has determined that the ideal population for Fayette County is 160,000. But since this is a county and not a country (and thus has no legal right to control the inflow or outflow of people), he must be sneaky and use zoning and the "Land Use Plan" to accomplish his goal.

Zoning laws should only be used for legitimate safety or health reasons: i.e., no chemical factories near schools or no higher density development than the septic capacity of the land will allow. When we misuse zoning laws we are essentially taking property from its rightful owner without fair compensation and taking one more baby-step toward socialism. Why buy green space (i.e., for parks) when you can effectively confiscate it by zoning it as agricultural land?

2. The zoning laws in this county are completely subjective and arbitrary. They allow our county commission to pick who gets to be a millionaire and who gets to be a farmer. Having read The Citizen articles regarding zoning for the past five years, I am convinced that no objective safety or health related reasons are consistently being used to turn down zoning requests. It is always something like, "that subdivision would ruin the view from such and such road," or, "those houses aren't going to be as big as mine." Eventually as land values go up, our county is going to be sued (successfully I might add) for compensation.

3. Hardly anyone wants five acre or larger lots, and most people can't afford them. Most of the country is moving toward smart growth, while Bob wants to move the other way toward large rural estate lots like his.

Neotraditional development mixes work space, parks, shopping, and residential housing within the same area so that you can walk more and drive less (if you want to). It is not for everyone, but it is popular with a large segment of the population.

This kind of development does not have a snow ball's chance in hell in this county, thanks to people like Bob Craft. Why can't people be free to choose their own level of density and type of land use plan? You can have your estate lot and others can live in a neotraditional setting. Let the market decide, Bob!

4. Traffic problems, smog, and congestion are not caused by development, but by stupid development patterns brought on by stupid zoning. Almost every store of any size in this county is within one mile of the Fayette Pavilion. To get to the Pavilion, we must all drive though downtown Fayetteville.

You can thank your local governments and people like Bob who attend every meeting to lobby for their agenda for this arrangement. All the stores [are] north of Fayetteville because people like Bob Craft fight allowing them elsewhere, and our governments back them up. Maybe the citizens of Fayetteville (and Newnan) would rather you Peachtree City folks shop in your own d town and stay off their streets.

5. To control growth, America (not Fayette County) must control population growth (not housing growth). This means severely restricting permanent immigration and make changes in our own society, i.e., removing tax advantages favoring large families from the tax code and frowning more on illegitimate pregnancy.

Housing growth is a symptom, not a cause of population growth. Who would build houses if there were no new people to buy them. We Americans no longer seem to have the courage to tackle pressing problems like national (and worldwide population) growth, so we find an easy substitute in fighting local growth. It is easier to be weasel and use bogus zoning to just keep them out of your own back yard than to fix the problem. Right, Bob?

6. Finally. This is Fayette County, not Craft County. I know for a fact that you are not a native of this county. Someone had to build roads, schools, hospital, fire stations, etc., when you moved here. Don't you think it is a little hypocritical for you to expect the county to not build infrastructure to accommodate other newcomers? Besides, most home buyers have no problem paying legitimate impact fees.

We used to respect freedom, tackle root problems, and mind our own business in this country. What happened?

Bill Gilmer


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