Why Did Land-Use Suddenly become such a Hot Topic?

Bundy-Ranch-Cartoon-w-Cow-1-BRecent events at the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, clearly demonstrate that land-use issues are a hot topic — and not just in Millard County. People care about their property rights! One of the challenges, as illustrated by our letters to the editor, is that not everyone agrees about what to do about it.

In the Fall 2012 issue of Range Magazine, an agricultural publication devoted largely to ranching, there was an article entitled “Good-bye Property Rights – – the long, winding trail.” The article explained how there has been a very systematic and deliberate effort to destroy private property rights in America over the past 20 to 30 years. People are beginning to catch on, especially in rural areas, where residents are finally starting to ask some serious questions about what is happening. One common theme is that when questioned, so-called experts and political leaders try to paper over the true nature of the laws. They insist that the law doesn’t really mean what it says, and that even if it did, the especially strict parts of the laws would never be enforced. History proves, however, that once such laws are on the books, authorities can and will enforce them, often selectively, with little recourse or accountability.

If one steps back and looks at the big picture and understands what is going on, it is truly alarming. In many cases local elected officials don’t even realize what they are doing. They are told that they should enact comprehensive land-use planning, so they dutifully adopt something. In many cases proposed prepackaged ordinances are handed to them with assurances that these ordinances will take care of everything, and everyone else is doing it. Because the ordinances are so lengthy and complex, rarely do elected leaders take the time to read and study them before voting. In most cases, they don’t even understand the laws they have passed. The same appears to be the case here in Millard County. And it is not just here that people are waking up to the reality of these laws, and their dire consequences. Across the country more and more people have become concerned about restrictions on their private property rights. They are starting to realize that we have reached a point where we can no longer take our freedoms for granted, and just assume they will be protected. As you contemplate how you feel about these issues, we invite you to study our founding documents, including The Declaration of Independence, as well as both the U.S. and Utah State Constitutions.

The Preamble to the Utah State Constitution states: “Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we, the people of Utah, in order to secure and perpetuate the principles of free government, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION. All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess and protect property; to worship according to the dictates of their consciences; to assemble peaceably, protest against wrongs, and petition for redress of grievances; to communicate freely their thoughts and opinions, being responsible for the abuse of that right.”

The Declaration of Independence says: “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [property].–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

From our perspective, it is time for both We the People and our elected leaders to look around, to try to understand what is going on, and to start doing something about it. The place to start is by getting educated. The best way to do that is by reading the ordinances and trying to understand what they mean. If we do that and end up feeling like we need a law degree to comprehend the laws, that’s the first sign of trouble. If they say that such laws are now the source of all property rights, and that the only thing we are allowed to do with our property is what the law says we are permitted to do, that’s a major red flag with respect to what happened to your unalienable God-given property rights: the applicable governmental entity first usurped them, and then flushed them right down the toilet, in exchange for new “government-issued” privileges.