The Maumelle Watershed Property Patrol – Where to Begin…

August 17, 2011

[img_assist|nid=24611|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=300|height=232]So it’s been drilled into my generation’s collective head that Mother Earth above all else is most important. Now – I’m not saying we shouldn’t be good stewards of what we have and the environment around us (if you aren’t you should be ashamed of yourself); but I am saying that it’s really not the government’s job to prioritize… well… my priorities.

In saying all of that, let’s take a look at the various proposals coming from the firm Walls, Robert, Todd – a group of consultants that is tasked with studying and then selling new regulations on land owners (and future land owners) in the Lake Maumelle Watershed area in Pulaski County.

Earlier this week two public forums were held to highlight the newest draft of proposed zoning ordinances that will affect the areas included in the Lake Maumelle Watershed. This has been an ongoing topic of some controversy here in Pulaski County for several years now, and it was interesting to hear from both sides their thoughts on more regulation.

Proponents in the audience seem to take on the arguments that the “common good,” dictation of how tall you should be able to build your home, and (I kid you not) “land owner greed” should be regulated by the local government. Obviously the poor simpletons like those that live in the area that would be affected by these new zoning ordinances just can’t police themselves in protected their own property. I mean, it’s not like they’ve been good caretakers of their own private land before now or anything.

Maybe I have digressed a bit. Here’s the real deal here – people are high fed up with the county government and Central Arkansas Waters’ attempts to confiscate their property. Oh yes – I head the testy gentleman say time and time again that “it’s still your land.” Well how, good sir, is it still my land if I have to give up 60% of my private land to green or open space (i.e. think a park that you cannot use for your own purposes)? How is it still my land when you’re putting a stream buffer of up to 300 feet on my property? That “buffer” has to be “preserved and maintained in a pristine, undisturbed condition.”

So what happens if my husband or I were to (God forbid) mow or build a little deck in that area to clear it out for fishing or being able to watch out for water moccasins? Possible jail time, fines, legal injunctions or all of the above.

Another area of concern not many people have talked about yet is the fact that this could be a violation of the 5th Amendment. The property of many of the good people that live in the Maumelle Watershed area have worked their entire lives to have and do as they wish with it. Whether it be divide it up into smaller acreages to leave to their children or raise livestock – they are hard workers that take care of what they have. Many concerns have been raised that this is essentially government confiscating private property without fair reimbursement. In fact, here’s where the 5th Amendment comes into play – “… nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” You see, the open/green space portion of these drafted ordinances doesn’t mention the land owner being paid to give up their property to the county government/Central Arkansas Water. These private property owners are simply supposed to grin and bear it – hand over something they rightly own without said “just compensation.” That just stinks up to high heaven, and it’s unconstitutional.

And I won’t even get into the fact that land owners would lose any and all mineral rights. Felt that? It was prosperity being snatched away by meddling government officials.

You see, friends – the road to (*ahem*) over regulation is paved with good intentions. That’s what this is – someone thought the common good should be regulated by the government.

The comment period for this issue closes on September 16, so I suggest you join with me, local landowners, and with Americans for Prosperity-Arkansas in making our voices heard. Don’t wait! Call your local Quorum Court member today.

Like this post? Chip in $5 to AFP