RURAL AMERICA IN THE CROSSHAIRS
By Ron Ewart
May 7, 2013
“There is no week, day, or hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country, if the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance.” —Walt Whitman
Back in 2004, we were involved, with several other rural landowners, in opposing a particularly onerous proposed environmental ordinance in our county. We gave testimony at several public hearings and we organized quite a few public protests at which several dozen landowners turned out. We even got some of the local media to attend our protests. We also wrote many guest editorials and letters to the editors outlining our objections. In spite of a fairly significant turnout by the effected rural landowners, the Democrats on the county council, that held the majority, passed the ordinance into law literally in the dead of night, in spite of vociferous opposition and over 100 amendments put forth by the Republicans.
The county council at the time consisted of thirteen members, 7 Democrats and 6 Republicans. Two of those Republicans represented the rural areas of the county ….. only two. The rest of the council members were elected by the urban population and held an urban mindset when it came to zoning, the environment and land use issues. In effect, the rural landowners of the county were disenfranchised from any political outcome. They had to “eat” whatever the urban representatives dished out to them. The upshot was that rural landowners were being forced to bear almost the entire burden of environmental protection, while their city brethren got off virtually scot-free.
We debated an environmentalist on a radio show at one time during the debate over the ordinance and he kept saying that: “we have to protect OUR rural lands.” On three occasions during the show we had to remind him that the rural lands did not belong to him or anyone else in the big city. Rural lands belong to real people who paid for their land and worked their land and those landowners have constitutional rights.