Our nonprofit organization represents rural landowners throughout America against the onslaught of ever-tightening land use rules and draconian environmental regulations. We find that big-city land use codes are being re-invented in rural areas that are totally out of proportion to rural settings and largely based on UN Agenda 21 social and environmental policies that fly in the face of American constitutionally protected property rights. Ouray County, Colorado would be considered as quite rural, if not almost remote from large cities.
With a population of around 5,000 citizens, that works out to about 10 people per square mile. Many areas of America would be ecstatic to have such low densities. And yet, the county’s land use code represents what very large cities do to control and manipulate growth, for reasons that are largely un-American. The desire to maintain a rural or agricultural character unfairly restricts rural property owners and subjects a rural minority to the tyranny of an urban majority, without due process and just compensation as mandated by the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. Further, it is anything but equal protection under the law.
Specifically, a land use code (Ouray County) that requires two thirds of adjacent property owners, whether in a Planned Unit Development or not, to approve a subdivision of an adjacent parcel, is not only almost impossible to obtain, but patently punitive, if not unconstitutional. It leaves the door open for retribution by one or more property owners against an applicant. It further subjects the applicant to blackmail or coercion for one or more approval votes. If adjacent property owners have so much control over a single neighbor’s property, it would seem fair that the neighbors with the control pick up a portion, if not all, of the applicant’s property taxes and development application fees. Public hearings and the courts are the best routes to take for airing grievances with new subdivisions.
All across America we see this pattern of government regulating to death everything that humans do. We find it incredulous that we would run into this same pattern in a remote section of beautiful southwestern Colorado.
Beware that the great folks of Ouray County don’t create an environment by over-regulating the people that will end up by the people having a reckless disregard for the law, because laws are too restrictive, or worse, the people become lawless altogether. It is happening in other parts of the country for exactly the same reasons, but rarely in such remote areas as Ouray County, Colo.
Thomas Jefferson said, appropriately: “When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” We fear for the liberty of the folks in Ouray County, Colo.
– Ron Ewart, President, National Association of Rural Landowners