Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

When zoning disputes go wrong

This can happen. The accompanying slide show is also entertaining, especially if you happen to be a University of Florida fan.

For the record, my house, about five miles from this place, resembles neither it nor the palatial abodes next to it.

Discussions - 36 Comments

This man has joined my growing list of heros.

Poor goats and pigs have to live in the stench of a Gator fan. Yuck.

I for one side with the neighborhood association (not because but inspite of their wealth). This guy’s just a developer who wanted to violate the county plan to make a buck. His neighbors, on the other hand, realize that the reason their homes are so valuable is because they are exurban, large, and on huge lots. Developers are always trying to break up such schemes, essentially to unfairly cash in on the neighborhood’s status by increasing density (and therefore profits) -- which of course undermines the neighborhood’s status in the long-term (i.e., long after the block-busting developer has his cash in hand and is busy screwing someone else).

This is one of the many problems associated with a Libertarian worldview. Part of property’s value comes from the surrounding social environment...our neighbors SHOULD have some say in how we use property. These is even more the case when our use of property actually erodes our neighbors’ property values.

Mr. Cook’s subsequent actions (i.e., the farmyard, the weird colors) are those of a selfish, spoiled brat. If I were his neighbors, I’d hire a hunter from out-of-town to his roster (and later, his peacock).

that is, to KILL his rooster...

Dunwoody, the site of this amusing eyesore, counts as a close-in Atlanta suburb. (The exurbs are at least 20 miles up the road.) Almost all the new development is in-fill, with enormous houses on small lots. The article doesn’t make clear what distinguishes his modest proposal from the many others that various county zoning boards have approved.

Thanks for the clarification. Still, if there is logic to the county plan, then I’d still side with the neighborhood folks. I’ve seen too many "developers" and their utter disregard for the people who have to live with the stuff they build. Property rights are never absolute.

That must be where viewing with dis-Dain came from.
They disagree with his proposal? Buy his land at a price he agrees to accept. I see too much of this drawbridge attitude. People buy a house with a view, and assume they can use coercion to prevent development that takes their view instead of honestly buying the intermediate property. Taking something that is not yours is theft.
Bad Dain.

Walter...protecting your investment is all-American. Ownership is a communal property (you’d better have big guns if you lack a deed and a government to back it up). Thus, land use is regulated...it’s insane not to regulate it (unless you want your neighbors dumping mercury into your creek!). The "aggrieved" party in this instance had the opportunity to build a big house and take his profits...he just got greedy. No one was trying to "preserve the view," they were just trying to restrict certain land uses that they believed harmed their neighborhood and their land values.

I think it’s important to note that most people stupid enough to buy a house adjoining a corn field lose these fights. I have no fear that this will open the "floodgates" of socialism...the neighborhood association was lucky to have won. Mr. Cook should have compromised with them.

This is private property and if he wants to build two new houses so be it. Zoning and telling people what they can or can not do is just another disguise of Socialism. After all wasn’t it the County’s CENTRAL PLAN to keep the area agricultural.

Nope, that’s one of the major differences between conservatives and libertarians...the market does not "fix" everything. Conservatives see several legitimate roles for government. The regulation of land-use is extremely important if we are to have a "society." Libertarians (aka, Rousseau’s stepchildren) believe that the "noble savage" can do no wrong if he pursues is own interests. Conservatives know better...but they also disbelieve that government can solve all problems. Ultimately, conservatives seek a balance between sources of power.

I stand by my comment. Private property is private property!!!!!!!! Socialists and Communists tell people what they can and cannot do. True conservatives believe in limited and small controls of the government. Granted this is at the local level, which is better than the federal government doing it, but nonetheless is CENTRAL PLANNING. Individuals should be free to do as they wish with their private property in order to maximize their utility, as long it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. His neighbors may not like him putting up 2 houses to sell but it in no way infringes on their rights as human beings.

I’m sorry, that’s a naive point of view. Look at it this way...say you’ve got a nice home, but the guy across the street decides to run a pig farm. The smell alone reduces the value of your home by X. The problem is, the pursuit of "utility" inevitably interacts with (often violates)the rights of others.

Another good example is the automobile. Even though it’s YOUR property, and even though the speedometer goes to 100, it’s against the LAW to go that fast...anywhere. That’s because the use of private property is typically regulated for the sake of communal living.

The bottom line...living in a community requires compromise. This whole libertarian/Ayn Rand individual hero myth is unrealistic. We live in societies, and we aren’t much without them (in essence, a weak animal who must struggle for survival). It’s a devil’s bargain, true...nonetheless, you live with people, you compromise with them.

And yes, I’m aware that this creates a slippery slope. I see no alternative...we must be on guard for overkill on state regulation.

Even though it’s YOUR property, and even though the speedometer goes to 100, it’s against the LAW to go that fast...anywhere. That’s because the use of private property is typically regulated for the sake of communal living.

Huh? It’s illegal to drive 100 miles per hour on roads--which are owned by the government. If you happen to own, say, a racetrack, you can drive on it, or let others drive on it, as fast as you’d like. As for mercury poured into creeks, that is a private property matter as well, inasmuch as polluting upstream inflicts a measurable harm on those who live downstream.

Do y’all remember when arguments like Dain’s were used to keep black people out of all-white neighborhoods? If this is what separates the conservative from the libertarian, then I’m proud to consider myself one of the latter. However, I tend to think that even among conservatives Dain’s in the minority on this one.

Sure, Moser, that’s why the masses are rising up all over America to destroy zoning as public policy. Geez, get real...and stop reading Ayn Rand.

As for the mercury example, yes, it’s a matter of private property. And that’s why we have government force people to STOP DUMPING INTO THE STREAM. It’s called regulation.

This is why laissez-faire never works...conflicting interests. People don’t always obey contracts, and sometimes people refuse to honor their commitments. That brings in government and the judicial system...capitalism just can’t function without the support of government.

The difference is this: There are mature conservatives who understand the need for institutional balance, and libertarians who haven’t outgrown their rebellion against all authority. I’m sorry you number yourself among the latter, John.

Dain,

I must say I am surprised by your support of zoning boards after your strong dissent from Kelo.

Professor Moser, I must completely disagree with you. One, libertarians would surely favor absolute property rights. Keeping blacks out of certain pieces of property was done through real covenants and equitable servitudes. Both function as a CONTRACT on the land (meaning this is completely private, not government sponsered), and people may seek an injunction to enforce the contract (meaning the State uses its powers to keep blacks off the property). The Supreme Court had to bend a rule of law (it had held that State enforcement of court decisions was not a state action, but rather a private action) and hold that State enforcement of racially discriminatory covenants and servitudes was a state action and therefore violated the Equal Protection Clause. I cannot fathom how libertarians would favor disregarding contracts and private wishes between contracting parties. I believe libertarians often argue that some sort of economic or social market will eventually work things out. Second, it seems absurd that libertarians or conservatives would favor the government allowing an individual to disregard a CONTRACT he made when buying a piece of property, esp. when the property’s price reflects this contract. Covenants and servitudes are often used to set rules determining siding color, mailbox rules, lot size, etc. I once built a house in Muirfield (where they hold the golf tournment in Columbus) that had mailbox rules, etc. People entering this contracts are intelligent and should be held to them. A piece of property that a person could do ANYTHING with, or anything on it, would be VERY valuable. Being able to do less with a piece of property priced accordingly is fair. Third, I have been reading Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia and he presents an interesting situation. Say a rich, evil guy buys all the land around a person he hates, and traps that person on his land. Because people cannot trespass, the evil guy can get an injunction preventing the other from trespass, etc. What is the hapless trapped man to do? Starve to death? Notice he cannot fly a plane or helicopter because traditional property law gives the evil guy air rights, and such flights would be trespass, nor may he dig because the evil guy has subsurface rights. Obviously the trapped guy ought to get an easement by necessity, which our law allows, but I have a feeling that a libertarian would hold the evil guy’s property rights should be absolute.

Nothing inconsistent, Steve. Kelo is about public takings, which in my view is OK when a clear PUBLIC need exists for the property (e.g., infrastructure). Taking private property by force and selling it to another private individual/group goes well beyond reasonable land-use regulation. It’s well down that slippery slope...all I’m supporting is the regulation of land-use that protects adjoining property owners.

This is why laissez-faire never works...conflicting interests. People don’t always obey contracts, and sometimes people refuse to honor their commitments. That brings in government and the judicial system...capitalism just can’t function without the support of government.

Is there anything that I posted here that suggests I’m an anarchist? I’m not anti-regulation at all--I just believe that government regulations should be about protecting private property, not undermining it. If I pollute a stream, I’m inflicting real harm on those who hold property downstream. Of course there’s a critical role for government in preventing me from doing so. The same might be said about noise ordinances and other regulations limiting negative externalities.

Come on, John, don’t be oblique. Starting a pig farm in a residential area also does real harm to the neighbors, and allowing people to build whatever they please in a neighborhood can do the same thing. Neighborhood covenants, zoning, and land-use planning...they’re all as American as apple pie because they are designed to protect the investment of private land owners. Now, if that’s not true (as in Kelo), then I’m with you. But occasionally you have to tell developers no, they can’t build that Section 8 housing in your area. No, they can’t put a rental duplex in your single-family housing development. And, no, they can’t put two giant houses on a single lot. What we are talking about here is not the denial of property rights by government, but the use of regulation to serve the general interests of all private property owners in a given area. There’s a big difference between those two things.

As for the mercury example, yes, it’s a matter of private property. And that’s why we have government force people to STOP DUMPING INTO THE STREAM. It’s called regulation.

Once again Dain you missed the point. I will refer to point I made in a previous post.

Individuals should be free to do as they wish with their private property in order to maximize their utility, as long it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.

It is my right as a human being to not have my part of the stream polluted by someone upstream. In this case use of private property is harming the rights of other citizens. You once again skirt around what I said.

As for the 100mph scenario. What does driving on the road at 100mph have anything to do with private property rights. A HIGHWAY IS A PUBLIC GOOD. Do I really need to explain the difference between private and public property.

BTW, you might not like a pig farm going across from you but to bad. If that is what someone wants to do then he/she should be allowed. However, besides zoning one of the reasons this doesn’t happen is because the price of land in a residential neighborhood is TOO EXPENSIVE for a pig farmer and no doubt does not offer the high volume of land that is needed to so.

The market dictates that a pig farmer will not be in a residential neighbor because if would not be cost efficient and therefore not profitable.

Ah, Mr. Libertarian, the sacred "market" solves all problems? Nonsense. Are zoning laws demonstrate that conflicts in land-use are routine. Moreover, industrial uses generally outbid residential uses for land (which is why you have skyscrappers in downtown areas but few single-family dwellings). A good-sized pig farm might well pay more in taxes and produce more profit than a single-family home (or several such homes, which are nothing more than consumer goods).

There is a reason we have zoning laws...typically to protect residential areas from commercial encrouchment.

And I always love that libertarian phrase: "Individuals should be free to do as they wish with their private property in order to maximize their utility, as long it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others." Completely meaningless...ever heard of externalities? Harm is a matter of degree and interpretation, which is why we have courts.

Industrial uses generally outbid residential uses for land (which is why you have skyscrapers in downtown areas but few single-family dwellings).


Once again you skirt around the topic at hand. Unlike others you will not suck me into 10 different side arguments that mean nothing. When did I ever mention Skyscrapers? When did I ever mention whether or not pig farms raising more taxes was the issue, which is most likely not true anyway? Maybe you need to go back to school and take a geography and logistics/distribution class to figure out why businesses are in downtowns, build skyscrapers and learn how they plan out their location. Moreover in making your brash and off topic comments have further emboldened my point further. The reason you see skyscrapers at all is because the land is to expensive to buy the required amount needed for office space. As a result instead of buying huge chunks of land at enormous prices, skyscrapers are built instead.

Secondly, I am not a libertarian. I guess I just get labeled that because I happen to not agree with you Dain which is common place with you attacking other people. One only needs to look at just about every post you have ever made.

There is a reason we have zoning laws...typically to protect residential areas from commercial encroachment.


No, the reason we have zoning laws is because government thinks they know best about how private citizens should live their lives. Once again, refer the geography class you should take on why businesses do not form in the middle of residential neighborhoods. Lets save you a little pain, look for the concentric zone model. Maybe you will also discover that recently businesses don’t necessarily follow the model anymore, but the shift also deals with transportation routes. (i.e. go about 100 miles south to Columbus, Ohio and look at the business forming around the 270 outer belt.) This is sometimes, not always, referred to as business moving to the “Outer Spokes.” Both are very valid and build off of each other.


." Completely meaningless...ever heard of externalities?


I will refer back to 2 previous posts which is seems you overlooked.

Individuals should be free to do as they wish with their private property in order to maximize their utility, as long it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.

It is my right as a human being to not have my part of the stream polluted by someone upstream. In this case use of private property is harming the rights of other citizens.

Plus, I am sorry, but saying that you don’t like it, doesn’t really count as an externality in the context I refer to. Your context just refers to the belief that everything must be Dain’s way.

Harm is a matter of degree and interpretation, which is why we have courts.

I am not calling you a liberal, as it seems you are not, but this couldn’t be more of a liberal statement if you tried. The courts are not there to determine degree and interpretation. An example of interpretation and its negative consequences can be seen in the Kelo decision. The law is the law as written and is not up for interpretation. If there is a problem with, you speak out and vote differently next election or contact your elected official who has to answer to his/her electorate. The courts are there to uphold the laws which elected officials make, not to interpret anything. (This is the main problem with the current judiciary) Furthermore, the courts are there to enforce private contracts. Yes, I understand that when you buy a piece of land you are agree to the terms set out by the local government. Yes, they should be upheld by the courts as long as they are still rules or laws. However, that does not make them right or just. Zoning is an abuse of government authority. People should speak out and vote accordingly.

Why am I talking to dots? I must be crazy!

I assure you, I know about rent gradients, the Burgess model, and multinucleated development...better than you, apparently. WHY is the land downtown more expensive? Because its central location (tied to rivers, rails and later highways) makes it ideal for businesses, who have more money to bid on the land than families. You’ve said nothing that disagrees with me...commerce almost always outbids for land, and without zoning they’d build wherever they pleased. True, most residential areas might not be commercially important, but a good number would, and pretty soon such residential areas would be invaded by businesses.

I hope you do know that Houston, for instance, doesn’t have zoning. Occasionally you DO see a large commercial building in a residential area. Your point is silly and contrary to the facts.

By the way, snottiness isn’t a substitute for knowing what you are talking about.

Because its central location (tied to rivers, rails and later highways) makes it ideal for businesses, who have more money to bid on the land than families.

So please tell me again why would they trouble themselves on to build in a residential neighborhood?

My point is silly and contrary to facts. Please enlighten me Dain about how the residents of houston are afraid of business buying up there residential land.

better than you, apparently.


Oh yes I forgot, because you said so right. Then please tell me why it would be good for a business to locate in residential neighborhood as opposed to industrial parks near suppliers, ports to recieve shipments, or highways to truck products out. BTW, you also leave the fact that by building a skyscrapper where the land is pricy and renting the spare floors out lowers the average cost paid per sq. foot of office space.

FYI, lots of "industrial parks" which are really office parks are directly competing with residential development off beltways around the country...generally winning because cities what the tax revenue. Businesses that LIKE being in residential areas (like malls, restaurants and the like) would be the ones doing most of the invading. Surely you are aware that bigbox retailing follows population out to the ’burbs? Just how much "geography" have you taken?

As for why businesses build skyscrapers, you’ll notice that manufacturing generally doesn’t. That’s because only CERTAIN industries (like services - banking, real estate) can realize efficiencies in a skyscraper. Manufacturing goes out to the ’burbs and exurbs...lots of cheap land because they are competing with lower-order uses (like residential areas). Man, get a clue.

I knew you were going to go with the Malls and Restaurants; I was waiting for you to say it. I actually took a comment about groceries stores out earlier to not go here. They hardly qualify. These are location based service sector businesses that are generally not frowned upon by the people in the community. You have not argument from me, I have been saying right along I think they should be there. I like it. I don’t want to drive out in the boonies in the middle of nowhere to grab a hamburger. In fact these are the exact businesses cities try to bring in to upstart their failing economies.


Dain if you are from Ohio, go up north to Northeast Ohio. Tell me, would you observe the manufacturing industries as taking over residential neighborhoods. I will give you the fact that there are huge zoning regulations up there but do you think that they would really move away from the docks on lake Erie or I-90. No they won’t because it the best place for them to be for shipping and distribution.

Surely you are aware that bigbox retailing follows population out to the ’burbs?

Yes they do. But they form in distinct areas in the ’burbs’, not right next door to your house. Do you want to drive 35 miles in the city to buy groceries or buy a suit? Furthermore, I would not classify residential areas as lower-order use. In good residential neighborhoods 1 acre of land can sell for as much as $40,000 an acre. Considering manufacturing plants need several hundred if not thousands of acres can you buy that land up in a residential neighborhood with people living there. No because it is not available and in order to convince people to sell would be cost prohibitive, i.e. offering a high enough price. (BTW, I am with you on the Kelo decision which is why it gets so expensive to buy houses because forcing people to sell for private use is wrong and getting them buy offering a market clearing price is way to expensive.) And if the land is not used and is an empty lot of thousands of acres, well then tough if the plant out bids someone. Live somewhere else!!!!! If you zone this empty lot of thousands of acres for residential use only and don’t let the plant buy the land and build on then it is merely a cover for a CENTRALLY Planned economy. Last time I checked that was the philosophy of communists not conservatives.

FYI, lots of "industrial parks" which are really office parks are directly competing with residential development off beltways around the country...generally winning because cities what the tax revenue

Well which is it Dain? Are they getting the land because they are competing and outbiding or is it because the city gave it to them.

If you think about tying this into the Kelo case you are off base. I am striclty defended a person’s right to use the land as they see fit with minimal if any government interference. Remember in Kelo the government made them sell which is exacty what I am against but build on it to just about all forms of government interference including zoning.

I am striclty DEFENDED a person’s right sp. DEFENDING

Residential areas are routinely at odds with mall developers over proximity and traffic. The same is true for fash food restaurants, although other externalities (e.g., odors) matter for these industris...neighborhoods don’t want them too close. Thus, we have patchwork zoning, and it’s a good thing.

As for manufacturing, it depends. If we are talking automotive plant (lots of space due to horizontal plant construction) then you are correct. Most manufacturing is much more modest, however, and it’s needs aren’t that much different than residential (e.g., freeways, somewhat enhanced utilities). Suburbs in particular love small-scale manufacturing because they pay lots of taxes...indeed, residential and manufacturing are often in competition for the same agricultural land. With zoning, this conflict is eased.

I do hope that you live in a city/town without zoning, however. I’d really like you to experience the joys of living next to an auto body shop, convenience store, or powder-coating plant. Even a neighbor with a circular saw will give you a small taste of what it’s like.

Nope, what you say sounds good in principle, but the vast majority of Americans are willing to live that way. Zoning is a tried-and-true American practice...of course it can be abused, but name me something that can’t.

Sorry for the errors...I’m juggling a few things at the moment.

Of course, I meant "aren’t willing to live that way." I gotta stop until I have more time to do this properly. Damn.

Exactly is can be abused and is. Furthermore you know most Americans don’t have a choice. Try to go to Houston and start Zoning their and you will see how people like it. I still don’t give to shits what you think. What happened to this man is wrong and unfortunate. Ya know what.

I do hope that you live in a city/town without zoning,

No joke, I hope so too. Might just move to Houston.

I’d really like you to experience the joys of living next to an auto body shop, convenience store, or powder-coating plant. Even a neighbor with a circular saw will give you a small taste of what it’s like.

Firts of all, I own a circular saw myself. Secondly, that is the risk we take. The government can’t "watch over" you all the time. It still doesn’t replace that fact that they have no business zoning. It is once again a cover for socialism or communist central planning. (i.e. that fact that they are telling what they can and can not do.)

Well, I guess this discussion is over since you say you don’t care what I think. I do notice that your last post says nothing coherent about zoning, other than "what happened to this man is wrong." In your opinion, not in mine.

You would make a fine libertarian, though. In your anarchic view of "civilization," people always work out their own difficulties without resorting to guns, lawyers, or courts. Dude, the reason we have zoning and other land-use ordinances is to set up rules to reduce latent conflicts. It’s a sensible way to proceed...holding property is a social act...hell, even people like Locke, Hume, and Kames understood that (and built whole philosophical systems on government and society as systems of property ownership). No society/government, no legal ownership...pretty simple.

As for Houston, leave your heavy clothing behind if you move there. The place is the humidity core of the universe.

Dain, look. In several different posts I highlighted the need for the courts and the need for elected leaders to make laws. Once again as do to Fung, Phil etc. you attack me because I don’t agree with you on something. Sorry that one of the few consevatives left that still believes in limited government.

I’m attacking your political attitudes, not you as a person (although for some people it’s the same thing...not for me). I believe in limited government as well, but we also have to be realistic. Evil or corrupt men alone don’t account for the growth of government...the state answers needs, although not efficiently most of the time, and the possibility of abuse if very, very real.

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