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Archive for December 19th, 2005

Yankee Fans: You May Exhale Now

Garciaparra agrees to terms with Dodgers

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More Nanny State Madness

Residents in the  northern Westchester town of Lewsiboro have had enough and are suing the municipality over increasingly oppressive laws meant to protect wetlands and otherwise preserve nature. The folks are waking up to the idea that they, not government, probably can do a better job of protecting their own property, both private and community.

But the zeal that passed for progressive is now being labeled oppressive in a double civil rights lawsuit headed for trial in the summer. And the man among the most identified with the town’s environmental sensibility — Supervisor James Nordgren — is on his way out after an election loss to a moderate Republican newcomer.

The federal lawsuits accuse Nordgren and the town’s environmental enforcers in the planning department of using the 2004 wetlands law Nordgren wrote as a Planning Board member as a pretext for illegal property searches, selective prosecution, and imposing heavy fines of $10,000 to $100,000.

Mary Clark, an 82-year-old widow whose husband died of cancer before he could accomplish their dream of building two homes on approved lots, is still fighting the town 20 years later for her property rights. The problem: an expansion of a nearby elementary school led to the flooding of one of Clark’s building lots. The town declared it wetlands, according to the lawsuit. The town says Clark needs a wetlands permit but so far has not granted it.

"We get ignored, we get abused," said Arthur Clark, her son. "Meanwhile, we pay all kinds of money so they can be rude to us. Is that fair?"

The green police have become so powerful in Lewisboro, the lawsuit alleges, that backyards are no longer safe for activity as everyday as leaf piling, bush clearing or treehouse building.

I’d tend to agree with the "green police" characterization. This is the type of town that is hell to drive through-the crime rate is so low they’ll ticket you for failing to turn on your blinker before turning because the cops are bored out of their minds. Ditto for the politicians. There is nothing to fix in bucolic suburbia, so they invent problems to fix to look busy, like with stupid ordinances to make them look good. Tethering environmentalism with preserving a community’s character is good politics, except when it goes to far.

And designating an area, especially someone’s private property, as protected wetlands because the school you built caused it to flood is beyond the pale. I know Lewisboro. It is affluent, quite green, and, thanks to careful zoning laws, will forever remain that way. If the powers that be object to more houses being built then they should have changed the zoning laws.

I just have to make one more observation, and that is regarding Mr. Clark’s reference to the town administration being rude to him. I have seen this firsthand, and it is awful. I am no fan of snobs who talk down to someone standing behind a counter ("my taxes pay your salary!"), but the fact remains that there is no excuse for the nasty little power trips bureaucrats have at our expense.

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