Monday, March 5, 2012

Property activists challenge planners and what about Agenda 21?

Today's Tennessean had an article addressing the various proposed state bills that would expand property rights and curtail local government authority in the area of land use planning and zoning. (Read it here: Property activists challenge planners | The Tennessean,)

One thing I was surprised to read in this article is information that lends credence to the perceived tie between the expanding of local government land use planning regulations and something called Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is widely talked about in right wing circles. Hardly a day goes by that I don't get an email from someone referencing it or see it mentioned in a blog or discussion group. I have tended to dismiss it, however. It sounded like a paranoid conspiracy theory to me and I just never bothered to learn much about it.

I have seen paranoid conspiracy theories about everything from the secret NAFTA super highway, to reports of black helicopters and the building of concentration camps in America, to concern that the designation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a World Heritage Site was part of a plan to put us all under a one world government. I was too young to know it at the time, but I now know that when fluoridation was being proposed it was considered by many a communist plot to get citizens accepting of the idea that it was OK to use public water sources as a means of medicating the populace and a plan to make us all stupid and sedated. I think the metropolitan form of government makes a lot of sense and has served us well.  At the time it was being debated, the local chapter of the John Birch Society put out a pamphlet urging people to oppose metro, claiming it was a communist plot.

When something sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theory I tend to ignore it until I see the concern validated by a more mainstream source or see a respected conservative express the same concern. I never jumped on the Obama-was-not-born-in-America movement or the movement to stop the NAFTA super highway. (What happened to that NAFTA super highway, anyway?) I am going to stop dismissing Agenda 21 as fringe paranoid conspiracy stuff and read up on it. I will follow up with a report on what I conclude.

While the piece in today's Tennessean provided a good overview of the issue, it did not delve deeply into the specifics of the various bills. I would like to see the various bills explained one by one and the rational for each explained. Probably few would read such detailed coverage of the issue however. The details of planning issues can get boring.

While I know there has been overreach by local government and improper curtailment of property rights, I accept that planning and zoning and building codes are a legitimate function of local government. I have witnessed Metro government shamelessly trample property rights using eminent domain under the guise of "slum and blight clearance" and take property from one person and give it to another. (See eminent domain or Joy Ford,)  Unless I know a reason why some of the proposed bill should not be passed, I am going to assume the right side of the issue is with those protecting property rights and curtailing local government planning authority.

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