The Audacity of Illegal Land Confiscation

The more I look, the more I see, the more I read, the more I learn, the more I lament the sorry state of American freedoms.

Not at a snail’s pace, walking trails called greenways are now taking private property at breakneck speed. Thousands of acres of land are being taken out of the hands of private property owners every day in this country for the ubiquitous, albeit unfounded, idea that Americans need more nature walks to traverse.

This story is an example of a Tennessee home owner’s land is threatened by greenway:

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RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. – One man’s home he built himself nearly 30 years ago is in jeopardy. It’s not due to neglect or financial issues, but to make way for a greenway.

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In 27 years, David McCurry said he turned what was a junk yard into his family’s paradise.

Recent plans of a greenway coming through his nearly five acres of land, leaves him wondering what will happen to his peaceful paradise just outside the city limits of Murfreesboro.

Here is another example:

Annette and Marvin Bartlett were not happy when they learned Farragut plans to build a greenway through the seven-acre property family members have lived on for almost 50 years.

“They cut down mature trees, pave a path like an airstrip right through your front yard and call it a greenway,” Annette Bartlett said.

After talking with an alderman about their concerns, however, they learned a greenway is just the beginning.

The town’s decision to locate the path on their property was based on expectations that some day, the land will be subdivided and developed.

I point these out because it is becoming all too common. The city council where I live has adopted the anti-private property rights initiative of establishing greenways. The council has come at this from no less than three directions…maybe four. The first was signing an agreement with something called the “Carolina Thread Trail.” The second was adopting a “Vision Plan” that specifically identifies the addition of greenways as a goal of the city. The third is coordination with the transportation committee called the MPO (Municipal Planning Organization), which is proposing to divert transportation money away from roads and into the building of…you guessed it…greenways. The fourth is attachment to something called a Regional Government. In our case it is called the Centralina Council of Governments whose stated goal is to implement Smart Growth. Smart Growth proposes greenways and open spaces to be part of any planning goals.

Let’s say you rescind one or two of those agreements, you are still stuck with the others. One way or another, greenways will be put in place usurping the private property rights of many to serve the few, using our tax system by purchase or by incentives or by eminent domain to take land from those who have worked to own it and paid property taxes for the privilege. If they can’t get you through the utopian goals of the “Vision Plan,” they’ll come at you through the transportation planning department. If they can’t get you there, they will refuse grants from the Regional Government. And if they can’t get you on that one, they’ll sue you for not implementing your agreement with the Thread Trail.

So, what is a citizen to do? Our local tea party is looking for council members who will rescind all agreements with Trails orgs. and who will rescind the Vision Plan. We are looking for council members who will stand up to the MPO and tell them our transportation money is not to be used for greenways and bike trails except in areas that are already owned by government. We are looking for council members who are familiar with the Constitutional rights to own private property and who define property rights as a top priority for our local government.

Who wants to live in a place where the government can step in for the sake of a walking trail to take your property? The audacity of government officials who would define the common good as an excuse for taking private property for a walking trail is beyond reprehensible. And I would note that these greenways never cross the private property of city council members, county commissioners, or the select few who are chosen to sit on the ridiculous “stakeholder” councils. The audacity is stinking to high heaven. Yes, that heaven where our rights are derived.

Who are the citizens who think it is their right to traipse across someone’s private property? Those who think this, for their mistaken idea of some altruistic sake of commiserating with nature, should be candidates for trespassing fines and arrest. Instead, we have councils promoting obsequious cooperation from all around them to literally slap private property owners in the face. Other property owners…not themselves, of course.

Not satisfied with just greenway land, audacity leapt bounds even further in this Oregon law where government can and will take Scenic easements. Scenic easements are also called Viewsheds. In other words, they want views and scenery to surround their greenways and trails. So if your land just happens to be within viewing distance, your house or structures might offend the utopian connoisseurs of nature. We can’t have that, now can we? The word “viewsheds” can be found in our local plans as well.

Here is an excerpt from this law:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) of this section, after the date of the approval of the plan for the Willamette River Greenway or any segment thereof under ORS 390.322 (Submission of plan to Land Conservation and Development Commission), the State Parks and Recreation Department may acquire scenic easements in any lands described in such plan or segment pursuant to ORS 390.318 (Preparation of development and management plan). Each such easement may be acquired by any means, including but not limited to the exercise of the power of eminent domain.

Audacity of illegal land confiscation: It seems to be contagious.

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