PB: Some folks just don’t support property rights.

by SDM

Yesterday, SDM discussed a wrong-headed Miami Herald soapbox letter written by the Chair of the Charter Revision Commission, Bev Gerald. See PB: Who’s zoomin’ who?

Today, SDM looks at two other letters to Sunday’s soapbox. Following its custom, SDM will not name the authors of these letters because, unlike Ms. Gerald, these folks do not hold any elected or appointed Palmetto Bay office as far as SDM is aware.

The two comments below demonstrate a misunderstanding of property rights under the U.S. and Florida constitutions:

For example, many Palmetto Bay residents petitioned the village to protect them from Palmer-Trinity’s huge expansion of facilities and explosion in student enrollment. The council responded to preserve the quality of life its residents. Palmer-Trinity sued, causing the village to spend money to defend its decision. To base a recall effort on “costly litigation” is to discourage and intimidate free democratic expression.

The recent ruling by the courts in favor of Palmer Trinity expansion is a prime example of government interfering in citizens’ private lives. When a petition is voted down by our elected officials and the court overturns to support what benefits a business instead of the resident’s quality of life, something is wrong. (Emphasis added by SDM.)

A tension exists between and among the rights of property owners. On the one hand, our country and state have enshrined in their constitutions, laws, and in court opinions strong protections against the very thing these authors endorse.

Namely, a property owner’s rights must be governed not by petitions delivered when a development plan is submitted to the governing authority but at the time that the general laws regulating the property are adopted. The idea is that property owners must be able to use their property for the permissible uses the government grants to like-situated owners.

There is a mechanism for the government to interfere with these property rights. The government may acquire the property through condemnation and payment to the owner. Alternatively, the government can regulate property using its police powers.

However, the regulations adopted by the local government must comply with federal and state constitutional and statutory laws as interpreted by the courts – the common law. Furthermore, government regulation must be in place before an application is received so that the owner has sufficient notice before placing her money at risk.

On the other hand, property owners in a neighborhood or commercial area have a right to maintain their property values and uses in the face of owners whose uses threaten them. But, as SDM has shown, the village council’s authority is circumscribed and limited and these limits preserve the individual’s rights in the face of mob rule.

SDM has never said the SOPs have no right to petition the government for the Neighborhood Preservation and Compatibilty Ordinance or for the Neighborhood Protection Charter Amendment.  What SDM has said is that both of these pieces of legislation are wrong-headed and overbroad and, therefore, are likely to subject the village to lawsuits contesting them. Such contra-petitioning is SDM’s constitutional right, too.

Before we close up shop for today, SDM wants to share one more paragraph from the second soapbox author. This quote demonstrates the absurdity of the anti-school and anti-church arguments advocated by Palmetto Bay’s special interest groups:

The recent ruling by the courts in favor of Palmer Trinity expansion is a prime example of government interfering in citizens’ private lives. When a petition is voted down by our elected officials and the court overturns to support what benefits a business instead of the resident’s quality of life, something is wrong.

The reason this country has courts of law is to do precisely what this writer seems to despise: to limit the authority of the state with respect to individual property owners. What’s troubling to SDM, however, is the attempt by the author to use the term “business” as a kind of slur. It is almost as if this writer is channeling President Obama.

Palmer is a religious school and a non-profit that is operated, ostensibly, like a business, but its purpose is philanthropic and eleemosynary. In its dealings with Palmetto Bay, this non-profit business was right on the law, which is why the court found for them.

SDM Says: If you believe in limiting the government’s ability to interfere in citizens’ private lives, then you should support the court’s ruling in Palmer.

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