Zoning Ordinances

"The Proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act." - Ezra Taft Benson

“The Proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act.” – Ezra Taft Benson

In my two hundred word message that will be in the Voter Information Pamphlet, I state that my “guiding principle is very clear: Any measure that supports your rights, I fully support! Any measure that infringes on those rights, I am against.” This standard is very clear, especially when the principles behind rights and duties are correctly understood. (See here, and here)

One of the most comprehensive rights inherent in mankind is the right to honestly acquire and to be secure in their property. Property is an extension of one’s life in the past. It can be even simply the fruits of one’s labor. It is one of the most basic ways people seek happiness in this part of life. It is a reflection on the value and quality of one’s labor, ingenuity, and creativity in serving the public and themselves. If one does not fully own and control the use of their own land, money, and other forms of property, how could it truly be considered their own?

Remember, in terms of legitimate government action, it must always be derived from legitimate individual action. As Ezra Taft Benson stated so succinctly in The Proper Role of Government: “the proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act.” Therefore, if YOU do not have the right to control the use of someone else’s land or property, to tell them what they can or cannot add on to their own home, or pave their driveway with (as was the case in the city council meeting of July 9th), or what type of building they can build on their own land, then how could YOU authorize anyone, including your government, to do it on your behalf? Issues surrounding many of the zoning and sign ordinances have left me with the question: “Who’s property is it anyway?”

Thus, many of the zoning ordinances are not only superfluous, but even potentially criminal, if treated as anything more than recommendation to those who do not engage in a privileged activity that would make those ordinances directly applicable. (Such as working for the city).  Man created government, not the other way around. Therefore, as Benson put it, “since God created men with certain unalienable rights, and man, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that man is superior to the creature which he created. Man is superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around.”

Therefore, I am opposed to not just some of the zoning ordinances, but the ignorant appeal to a false philosophy that lies behind such presumptuous actions on the part of the City of Orem. If the “property owner” does not own and have the sole right to control the use of their property, then who does? Since that property is an extension of their life, wouldn’t the assumption that someone else is somehow entitled to such control be, essentially, advocacy for slavery itself?

I can already hear from those who disagree crying “but what about order?” “We want order in society!”

Well, all too often we give credit to government for the order we ourselves create. And for those uses of property that we may disapprove of, and complain about, people have every tool available to them in a free society to protest and advocate. But once one accepts the notion that they can use government to forcibly dissuade someone from their desired use of their own property, where is the logical line in the sand that would say “this, and no farther”? Is sacrificing the lawful framework of society itself in the name of “order” truly worth it anyway? History is replete of examples of this reasoning being taken to its logical extreme by government officials all around the world.

Yes, there will be disputes. As Samuel Adams stated: “It must…be confessed, that imperfection attends all human affairs.” (Letter to Noah Webster). Yet, it is not as if disputes and other “imperfections” have ever gone away with the zoning structure set up as it is currently anyway.

But it seems little remembered that legislatures and city councils are not there to settle disputes. They are there to find Law and mimic it in their statutory structure. They are to set up a legal code that best protects the rights, and enforces the duties, of persons within the jurisdiction of that respective government. Disputes, both civil and criminal, are why we have court systems. If there is harm to someone else, then we have the privilege in our civil society of benefitting from the use of a court system.

Let us never forget the entire purpose we enter civil society to begin with! It is to be more secure in the exercise of rights, and the enforcement of duties! Anything more or less than this standard not only “cometh of evil,” but is built on a premise that goes against the entire foundation of society itself.

The Declaration of Independence makes very clear the principle that whenever any government becomes destructive of the sole end of protecting rights, it is the right and duty of the people to alter or to abolish it. Local statutes and zoning ordinances cannot somehow, logically, be exempted from this standard.

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