Utah County Proposal to Balance Authoritarian Control with Liberty for New Subdivisions

Letter to various Utah County Employees, September 21, 2017, by Robert John Stevens

Hi Craig (Bostock), Brandon (Larsen), Jay (Montgomery), Bill (Lee), Brian (Voeks), and Glen (Tanner),

Please consider this proposal to balance the authoritarian control that Utah County demands and enforces with personal liberty and private property rights:

Rather than delay subdivision approval, by default impose the worst-case, most expensive remedies, and immediately grant subdivision approval. I call this the guilty until innocent approach.

Then while citizens are making other improvements, preparing to build, and building their homes they can pay for tests and implement lower cost remedies as needed.

This way, no county department delays progress.

For example, by default, assume the groundwater table is high. Then, rather than delay subdivision approval, citizens may choose an expensive wastewater treatment system, that in today’s dollars may cost $25k, and may require hauling in a great deal of soil that perks.

Then as citizens work through other issues they can pay to have traditional underground water monitoring performed, perhaps using piezometers, hoping the tests will reveal lower groundwater, so they may implement a lesser expensive solution.

If it is realized that the underground water table is too close to the surface, then the property owner may immediately begin working on other remedies such as digging drainage ditches, installing lateral drains to manholes or building French drains powered by solar or electrical energy (just as Provo City may require electrical-powered sump pumps in residential basements).

Another example is water quality. By default, the Utah County Health Department may impose a costly water quality treatment remedy. Using this guilty until proven innocent approach, citizens are not delayed.

If the property owner buys and transfers water rights to the property, has a well dug and the water quality is tested and proven to be acceptable, the costly imposition will be removed or reduced.

In a free society, private property rights are honored and respected and citizens may immediately move onto their property and begin improvements. In a socialistic society, citizens must always seek permission and it is very difficult for them to navigate government regulations, especially if multiple government agencies or departments are involved.

In a socialistic society, the government may choose the remedies, products, and services, thus picking winners and losers. In such a condition, innovation stalls.

I believe what we have now leans too far towards socialism.

My proposal takes a middle ground and offers the following benefits:
1. No government holdups for subdivision approval after surveying and title work is completed.

2. By default, the most expensive remedies are required until tests prove otherwise (the guilty until proven innocent approach).

This approach may be applied to many county and state requirements for subdivision approval, across several departments, and would help open the door to free-market solution providers and innovative solutions.

I hope this all makes sense. Feel free to ask questions or schedule me for roundtable discussions.

Sincerely,

Robert Stevens

Leave a Reply