by Robert John Stevens, May 2, 2017
Noxious weed regulations aren’t important to most people but can be used as an example of why regulations are destroying the USA and our counties.
To develop a 5.25-acre parcel in Utah County, Utah, a developer must buy a noxious weed certificate declaring the land is free of noxious weeds. I got mine from Buffo’s Pest Control in Provo for $500.
Who benefits? Pest control businesses.
Utah County, where I live, is 2,144 square miles in which 2,003 square miles is land and not water; 96% of land in Utah County is outside of the incorporated towns. In such a vast, undeveloped area, temporarily clearing a single lot of noxious weeds is of little to no value. Statistically, it is of no consequence.
This morning, at the public Utah County Commission Meeting, changes to new subdivision regulations for noxious weeds were presented to the Utah County Commissioners1 for approval.
During the public comments period I asked the commissioners, “Who makes regulations? Help me understand the process. I see staff recommendations and your approvals but have any developers been consulted? Is there a meeting where developers and farmers are brought into a room for discussion?” Commissioner Bill Lee responded, “Sure, lots of them.”
I doubt any farmers and developers were consulted.
“Has anyone inquired about how long it takes for weeds to return? I mean, wind blows seeds around.” They just stared at me.
I then asked, “Suppose I laser level my 5.25 acres. That pushes the dirt around and destroys noxious weeds at least to the point where living plants aren’t visible. Should I still be made to pay for a noxious weed certification?” Commissioner Lee responded, “This meeting is not a question and answer session.”
Immediately after the meeting, government employee Bryce Armstrong2 told me that the changes to the noxious weed regulations were for out-of-season bonding. A developer cannot get a noxious weed certificate after September so during the fall and winter months Utah County requires a bond $1,000 per acre for noxious weeds. That’s $5,250 for a 5.25-acre parcel.
Bryce also said there is a Planning Commission Hearing where public questions are allowed.
Regulations are destroying America. Unelected central planners think it is their job to create regulations to control every aspect of our lives. This is not the America that the Founding Fathers devised. In fact, before 1913 there were almost no regulations in the United States because the founders and subsequent lawmakers knew it was essential to protect liberty which is “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.3”
Since God is the creator of noxious weeds and nobody knows the extent of how many there are in 96% of 2,003 square miles, and the wind blows seeds all around, does it really matter if 5.25-acres are cleared from noxious weeds? It does to our county central planners.
School children are still taught to recite the pledge allegiance which concludes with these words, “with liberty and justice for all.” There is no liberty when central planners regulate every aspect of our lives.
Wouldn’t it be better if whenever a regulation is proposed that the government actively invites stakeholders to a meeting? Posting a meeting agenda on a government website isn’t enough to gather farmers, land developers and pest control owners who have a stake in noxious weeds.
If no stakeholders come to a planning meeting then no regulation changes should be made other than their elimination.
1The commissioners in attendence were Bill Lee, Greg Graves and Nathan Ivie.
2 Bryce Armstrong is the Associate Director of Utah County Community Development
3 Google’s dictionary also defines liberty as freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control and freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.