Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Private Property Rights

The below was submitted, and picked up, by the NeptuneMatters Blog. Again, I'm not a huge fan or supporter of anonymous bloggers, but the guy/girl/group over there seem to be doing a reasonable job of talking about their town's issue and clearly are paying attention at their city hall meetings and following township (Naptune) matters, something more should do. My submission was regarding their Boat & RV issue, but more on private property rights and you can read on the neptune matters site here, or I'll copy/paste below, all just my $0.02, I'm no lawyer or expert in property laws nor do I know about a "master plan", etc to take it for what it's worth, the ramblings of an averagenonone...

It has been with great interest that I’ve followed the Boat & RV ordinance issue in Neptune, not because I live in Neptune and not because I own a boat or an RV, but because I, like you, simply own private property; or private property that I at least want to believe is my own, for my own uses and needs. It’s private property which I legally and fairly purchased, in accordance with the law, from a previous private property owner and private property that I pay (significant) property taxes to inhabit and own. More importantly, it is my private property that I use to store my other privately owned possessions like my legally licensed and legally registered automobiles, at a fee to the Sate, and private property where I house my legally licensed and registered pet, for a fee to the City of Long Branch, and where I store all of my other private possessions, that I paid a 7% sales tax to the State to own.

My private property is, or should be, mine and your private property is, or should be, yours and you and I should have no fears that that a local government can dictate how we use our property so long as our use doesn’t impede on our neighbor’s use of their own private property, or the public’s right of way.

True, we need to be realistic about your private property rights, For example, I can be convinced, easily, that your car shouldn’t stick out of your driveway and block the side walk because I don’t want to walk in the street to get around your bumper, just as I can be convinced that you shouldn’t build a cell tower, that casts a shadow on my garden two blocks away, in your yard nor should you play Pink Floyd music so loud at 2am that you break my windows and wake me up, not that I’m opposed to waking up to Pink Floyd’s music of course.

But the Boat & RV ordinance being pushed by Neptune Democrats caught my interest because it goes beyond such reasonable limits of private property regulations and laws. It essentially tells boat & RV owners that their other private property, for which the State permits and collects a fee and the Federal government regulates and permits on its roadways and in it's waters, is not wanted in Neptune. Just for a second as something to think about, replace “Boats and RV” with “Tomato plants” and imagine if the township said “you can’t plant a tomato within 10ft of your property line” and you can begin to understand the dangerous and invasive road Neptune is headed down.

Why “only” a 10 ft setback on tomato plants? Why not a 15 feet setback? Really, why permit people to keep boats and RVs, or tomato plants, on their property at all? You think your RV looks great and it’s a hobby you enjoy; and I think my tomato plants look and taste great, but my neighbor thinks my plants attract bugs and rodents and are thus an eyesore. Before you know it, the law becomes “your dog is too close to my property line and the smell of an apple pie cooling in your window triggered my allergies so all should be regulated, to better my quality of life,” so to hell with your enjoyment of life. What’s happening in Neptune to boat and RV owners is indeed that dangerous slippery slope where how you use your private property becomes a circumstance of mob-mentality; and Niemoller would deliver his famous statement as “First they came for the boat & RV owners….”. If you own private property, you should be concerned.

But what’s happening in Neptune Township should also alarm everyone across the State for other reasons as well. Not only is this going to set a terrible precedent for private property rights, but it has the potential to really damage the State’s revenue stream that comes from registration and licensing of boats and RVs as well, not to mention potentially removing the license and permit fees collected for the seemingly related fishing hobby. In Neptune Township's selfish quest to rule your private property and get your boat stored in their marina, many boat and RV owners may be forced to sell their private property simply because they can’t use their private property for their own private needs.

Potential new owners might opt to buy into some other hobby and the State’s revenue will slip away. Having lived in this state long enough to recognize that if revenue slips in some area, it just, traditionally, means more new taxes or fees in some other area to make up for the loss. Such has been life in Jersey.

The Neptune Democrats who are pushing this invasive ordinance are the same people who claimed in the past election to stand for the middle-class working families in Neptune, yet they will regulate ownership of private property (boats and RVs) to those wealthy folks who own significantly large pieces of land, or the wealthy folks who can afford to store their private property on someone else’s larger property or the wealthy folks who can pay and laugh off the fines and court fees, while leaving the majority of people in Neptune, who are typical, average income, middle-class private property owners with 50x50 lots, no place to store their own private property. So much for sticking up for the poor, as I saw a few boats in the mid-town area. Don’t think boat and RV owners only live in Shark River Hills, they live all across the Township and would seem to have varying levels of income and own varying sizes of property. Not to mention, Neptune Democrats will cut off a much needed State government revenue stream at a time when that revenue is much needed and because the revenue generated by those few boat & RV owners will need to be collected in some other way, which probably means higher local property taxes, on the middle-class guy who never owned a boat or RV, or paid a fee to license and register one, to begin with.

It’s easy to sit back and do nothing if you don’t own a boat or RV, believe that the issue doesn’t affect you, but I urge all of you Neptunians who care about your private property rights, and/or your property taxes, to stand up to the Neptune Democrats and fight back against this ordinance. You not only would be helping yourselves, but you would be helping middle-class private property owners across the state to retain their private property rights, and keep their property taxes a little lower, not to mention reminding governments that private property owners have rights, and will fight for their rights.

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