by Robert John Stevens, September 7, 2016
No landowners would ever form a government that denies them from building on their own land but Utah County, the home of America’s Freedom Festival, stole that right—not by citizens’ consent but by years of creating 290-pages of behind-closed-doors, tyrannical land-use ordinances.
Buried deep are ordinances that deny landowners the right to build on their own property unless their driveway connects directly to a paved state or Utah County road, or they build, pave and dedicate a county road themselves. For 99% of the citizens who can’t afford the expense of building roads, this denies them of their inalienable right to build on their own property.
Utah County driveways may not connect to or pass thru private roads, especially if they are dirt, gravel, road-base, stone, cement or brick. Utah County does not permit landowners to create dead-end roads, cul-de-sacs or even paved, dedicated road segments.
So I spent $300 and submitted this wording change proposal:
To uphold private property contracts and inalienable property rights (freedoms this government was established to protect) by approving a recorded private-party contract that describes a private road easement whose dimensions conform to Utah County specifications, and a recorded plat with legal a description for the easement and these words, “We absolve Utah County from any and all liability in regard to this road easement,” signed by all adjoining parcel holders and notarized.
Yesterday a public hearing was held to consider my wording change. The outcome was either very dark for Utah County or the beginnings of a new day for freedom and liberty if they rectify the situation and stop denying citizens the right to build on their own property.
I defended my regulation change request before three Utah County Commissioners Larry Ellertson, Bill Lee and Greg Graves.
Unfortunately all three commissioners, including Commissioner Bill Lee voted against inalienable property rights and private party contracts. How can they hope to get re-elected when citizens thought they voted them into office to protect inalienable rights? Should government be allowed to prohibit private contracts between consenting adults?
Today paved interior roads cost more than $95 a foot with engineering and title work. My 3,714-foot or 3/4-mile road will cost more than $350k. I informed the commissioners I already built and paved 66 feet of interior road in two locations which is more than enough for emergency vehicles.
Rather than grant conditional subdivision approval so properties can sell to provide money for improvements, they decree unconditional denial.
The damage? Only 10k of 517k residents live in unincorporated areas and 290 pages of land-use ordinances restrict their rights. Aren’t there words for that such as theft, slavery and bondage?
Towns and cities occupy only 1% of the land in Utah County. I mentioned in the 1850s when Brigham Young abandoned Salt Lake City before the arrival of Johnston’s Army and moved the Mormons south to Utah County, 30,000 to 50,000 citizens relocated in Utah County. There may have been more citizens then living in unincorporated areas than today.
A billionaire can build a 100-mile road, retain the land on both sides, and then dedicate it to Utah County for taxpayer-supported maintenance. Small, low-traffic paved roads are also maintained by tax-paying citizens.
In my situation, I own both parcels and the road easement between them. How can government justify denying me my right to make a contract between myself and myself?
We talked about the possibility of allowing me to extend my interior roads and then building a temporary 100-foot turnaround. I argued that was costly and ridiculous and the commissioners agreed.
I told them on August 9th I emailed Brandon Larson, who works in Planning and Zoning, if he or someone could help me devise wording they may accept. He replied, “Community Development and the Attorney’s Office don’t believe there is a revision that would be acceptable, or that we would support.”
County officials argued that fire trucks must have turn-around access so I emailed Commissioner Lee a link to a YouTube video of a 45-foot Berkeley firetruck doing a three-point turn in under one minute. I explained that firehoses are 1500 ft long which can easily reach any part of these parcels, and in the 21st century firetrucks have a great innovation we call reverse.
Then the snow removal manager testified that he can’t back up. At that point Commissioner Lee asked me if they could deny my ordinance-change request (to uphold inalienable property rights and private party contracts) and asked Utah County Planning and Zoning to find a solution for my case.
If people can afford to buy and build on 5.25-acres, can’t they also afford snow tires? How many neighbors have snow plows? How often does it snow in Utah Valley? And can’t citizens just hire a snow-removal service?
How many citizens would give their consent for government to deny them of their right to build on their own property if government snow plow and emergency vehicle employees complain?
If emergency vehicle access is possible and for two houses that share a dead-end driveway in Utah County, or even one house with a long driveway, how is that any different for two houses that share a dead-end road?
The big disconnect here, as you know, is Natural Law, as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence may have been stamped into our beings at the moment of our creation. We citizens know it is our right to build on our own land. Most are unaware how local government makes that it impossible the majority.
I like Commissioners Bill Lee and Greg Graves. Will they realize the magnitude of the mistake they made yesterday and correct the laws before angry, informed delegates vote them out of office?
Not even the County Commissioners knew how tyrannical their laws had become—even if they read them it is difficult to understand the roadblocks until one tries to get subdivision approval.
Yes citizens are invited to comment during those morning commissioner hearings; however, most are busy at home or work. For the few who attend their input has little bearing on the bureaucrats’ decisions who often rubber-stamp laws created by unelected government employees.
The underlying problem is that Utah County government has long abandoned the rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Utah Constitutions and replaced correct principles with socialism.
See Section-3-11 Exception to required frontage on an approved public street