By Spartanburg County Councilman Roger Nutt
One of the tenets that this country was founded on was the understanding that man could not truly be free without the right to own property. President George Washington himself said that "private property and Freedom were inseparable". Understanding this, and its ramifications, is crucial to one's fundamental beliefs about freedom and government control.
Whenever local areas start to discuss ideas of improving their communities, invariably the subject of land controls will come up. All land controls are not an affront to freedom and to personal property rights, no more than our civil laws that restrict behavior and create an orderly society. Extreme views on land controls however always involve the "other guys' property. People rarely advocate restricting the use of their own property for a use that is not in their best interest.
Groups with one ideology often use the restriction of other's property to bring about a vision they see for their community. Many groups will advocate the restriction of undeveloped farm land so that it can never be used for housing or industry. With less land then available for development, land prices rise -- causing housing prices to increase dramatically. With less available land, and higher prices per acre, many businesses are forced to locate elsewhere instead of bringing their jobs to an area. Not to mention the "taking' of the farmland, and it's future worth from the farmer.
Many groups will advocate Zoning in an area to restrict certain types of activity to certain areas, instead of letting the free market decide. This type of restriction tends to only hurt the small business owner who must comply with these restrictions, even if his market is elsewhere. Meanwhile the big companies, like Wal-Mart, are able to have the zoning requirements changed so they can be where their customers are. Once again, by restricting theses business zones, prices go up and we all pay the price for that in the end.
Good government that understands personal freedom, will have in place good common sense land use regulations that will allow the free market to dictate activity, while protecting property values and the overall well being of the community. Like our civil laws give us an orderly society without overly restricting our freedom, we can also provide protection for our communities without infringing on one of our most basic freedoms, private property rights.