NUFF'S ENOUGH" - County citizens win against heavy-handed zoning

Commentary by Derry Brownfield

January 30, 2004

In The Allegheny Mountains of Virginia is the small town of Monterey. Like many towns in this nation, Monterey has a County Board of Supervisors and a County Planning Commision, along with a City Council. The City Council is made up of six members, two of which were politically correct.

The town was established in 1848 and many of the old buildings remain in what is now called the town's historic district. In 1981 the town designated itself as The Monterey Resources under the auspices of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Since the entire town was considered part of this Historic District, local residents were besieged with bureaucratic restrictions.

Before homeowners could make any improvements or changes to their property, they must first get permission from the Architectural Review Board, which applied guidelines for new construction, renovation or even demolition. These regulations were drawn up by federal bureaucrats and funded at least in part by the National Park Service.

After twenty years of government interference the townsfolk had finally had enough and went to the city council for relief. Mayor Janice Warner called a "public" meeting of the town council and the County Board of Supervisors and the County Planning Committee. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to continue the zoning plan for the town.

Regardless of the Planning Commission's advice, the City Council voted 4 to 2 to abolish the town's historic destrict. The local newspaper (The Recorder) published articles claiming federal grants, subsidies, tax rebates and technical assistance would be cut off, property values would fall, developers would turn the unique community into a clutter of commercialism and tourism dollars would evaporate. Nevertheless the deed had been done and the town was once again free from the tentacles of the politically correct bureaucrats.

The only way the town could be saved was to get a new City Council and begin the process of re-designating the town of Monterey as a Local Historic District. All six council seats and the Mayors office were up for grabs in the May election. Mayor Walker was reelected by a large majority, as were the four council members who voted to eliminate the heavy handed zoning regulations. The two council members who supported the historic district were soundly defeated.

Voters spoke in favor of property rights and against government control. It proves that special interest pressure from outside the area can be resisted when local people understand the situation and are willing to act. We must stay informed and be willing to fight for freedom, or our freedoms will be taken away from us.

© 2004 Derry Brownfield - All Rights Reserved



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