A voice for private property rights
By ELLIOT ZUCKER
Some time ago I was asked to put together an article explaining my perspective on the proposals presented by the visioning committee at meetings that I have attended. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to express my dissent.
I have several points on which I find the current conservation development plans leave a very sour taste in my mind. The most important point is in the area of private property rights. Space limitations prevent me from giving a detailed explanation of any one point. Therefore, here is a list, in no particular order, of a few of these points along with a brief indication of my position on the matter. Some of these points may well be just a matter of perspective, and I am more than willing to hold a dialog with those who support the initiative.
One specific point is that I have not seen anything resembling credentials held by the supporters that would give me reason to suspect that they have anything beyond personal bias upon which to base their positions. I have not spent time learning about medieval French literature and will not pretend to know anything about that field. I expect a similar courtesy from those who did study it not to pretend to be experts in fields such as ecology, limnology and population dynamics. Stating something loudly, frequently and with great conviction does not make it so. Having knowledge of ones subject to back up ones convictions is the most honest form of persuasion.
There is a difference between a postulate and a demonstrated fact. Any assumed fact can always be trumped by reality. Empirical is always the best flavor of evidence. When the various parts of the conservation development plan are presented, they are never accompanied by evidence that they have ever led to a superior outcome. The few examples that I have seen presented resemble nothing more than instant slums. High-density living is what many people come to rural places to get away from.
Another point is that, over the years I have learned that no law is immutable. When I opened my first bank account, the interest I earned on deposits was not taxable. When I started paying Social Security taxes, the benefits to be derived from that system were never going to be taxable (and I would be able to fully retire at age 65). The belief that any regulations passed to foster the conservation development plan would be immune from later changes is naïve, at best.
There is frequently a difference between the words that get used in making presentations and the actual intent behind the presentation. While all of the rhetoric surrounding the conservation development system sounds very Gaia-friendly and Bambi-o-centric, the actual effect of most of the proposals are more like rampant isolationism (now that I got here, slam the door and pull up the drawbridge). The ideal time for door slamming and drawbridge pulling up appears to be about 10 minutes after the speaker moved here.
The belief in one-size-fits-all zoning for the entire upper Delaware corridor is absurd fantasy at first glance. Even discounting the fact that one commonwealth and one state are involved, there are significant differences between the situations in the townships on either bank of the river. In the case of at least one township, a significant fraction of the area is already removed from potential development. This situation alone seems to obviate the reason given by the proponents for considering the adoption of conservation development planning in the first place.
These are some of the points of difference between my views and those of the self-appointed visioning committee. Any of these points and several more could be the subject of a complete article. I appreciate the opportunity to express my views.
[Elliot Zucker is a trustee of the Shohola Railroad and Historical Society and an alternate member of the Shohola Township Zoning Hearing Board.]
To contribute to this column contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For a complete archive of visioning statements go to upperdelaware.com.