Property Rights in a One Party State


Our Neighborhood Courtesy Bing Maps

I grew up in the northwest Indiana suburbs of Chicago and watched the innate corruptness of King Richard’s domain nightly on television. This probably had something to do with how I became a Republican. See, I was a silly and idealistic kid, I thought the law meant something.

My friends over at Grassroots in Nebraska (at least i hope they still are) a while ago wrote a series on how politics in Nebraska is a one party affair. They are absolutely right but, out here it goes farther, If your father and maybe grandfather weren’t members, they aren’t very interested.

Anyway, one of the neatest dodges they use is the International Property Management Code (Thanks, Nebraska Legislature). I have a whole series in preparation on this, that I will be publishing but, for now, you’ll have to take my word for it. You don’t decide anything about your property; that’s up to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), which in most cases will be your friendly local building inspector.

Oh, yeah, we have zoning laws, too. Our (rented, actually) property is zoned M-1, which is light manufacturing. Make perfect sense, it’s about a block from the mainline of the Union Pacific, no one in their right mind would build a house on it, anyway. The thing is, when we rented the property, one of the attractions was that the zoning allows for outside storage. As an electrical contractor we tend to have some awkward sized and shaped things that don’t need to be inside, plus some metallic junk waiting to go the recycling center when we have enough to make it worthwhile. The lot also has a chain link fence which, in theory anyway, should keep the kids from playing there.

That’s all well and good. A couple of years ago we were going along minding our own business when we got a city citation for material (junk, according to the city), stored in our lot (the AHJ also has the power to decide the definition of junk). So like good little obedient lapdogs we asked the Code Enforcement Official to meet us on site, which he did. Some of his complaints were valid (in our eyes) and some weren’t. What really irritated us was that his demands requests had nothing whatsoever to do with our zoning, and not much to do with residential zoning either and some explicitly contradicted federal law. We had our zoning rules on our clipboard as we walked around, he finally told us he had never read them, his job was the IPMC .

We finally reached an agreement that we wouldn’t store things on the ground, zoning be damned, which essentially meant that they would be loaded onto our trailers (which he understood), which tend to run for designated types of jobs, and the loads were sorted accordingly.

So we go along for a year . Then its time to play again. My partner, who lives next door, gets cited for amongst other things, an unpermitted fence that he used to contain his dog. When he built the fence he obtained the appropriate permit and built accordingly, so we rather went, Huh? But, anyway, he wasn’t using it so we tore it down and stored it. Just not worth the argument.

Here’s your IPMC tidbit for the day: A fence must start within 18 inches of your sidewalk in front and enclose your entire yard (or something close to that, the code is not in front of me right now).

So to bring this sorry tale down to the present, as of the last citation, we can no longer store things on the trailers, which means I have to schedule someone to take a truck and pull a half loaded trailer of scrap metal 60 miles and back. Use up a half a day for truck and driver (and a fair amount of wasted fuel). One of the other trailers, I don’t know what to do with, anybody need some used railroad ties and plywood, a good used pickup tool box, maybe? Too good to throw away, neatly loaded, haven’t found the right spot to use.

Oh, one other thing, about 3 blocks away, there is another lot, a little larger than ours. This one has piles of scrap, inoperable vehicles and about 15 air conditioner condensers laying around. I don’t have a real problem with this, I understand the business, they’re in the same businesses we are. What I do have a problem with is that they haven’t been cited, ever. Gee, I don’t know why, don’t suppose it could be because the president of the company is the Mayor, could it? Nah, couldn’t be.

Update: I’ve been informed that I mispoke. We are actually zoned M2; no essential differences though.

About Neo
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

8 Responses to Property Rights in a One Party State

  1. Freedom, by the way says:

    That old adage, “It’s who you know.” Or in this case, “Who you are.” I detest what’s happening with property rights in America and the smaller your lot, the closer your neighbors, the richer your neighborhood, the worse it is. That’s why we haven’t lived in a place with a neighborhood association since our first house. Once was enough. Unbelievable that you’re in M-1 and got a zoning citation for storing outside equipment.


    • Yep, Yep and Yep. I watch watch the property owners associations do and shake my head in wonder. I have come to understand what Dad meant (in 1950, no less) when he decided to buy 5 Acres of woodland and build his new house exactly in the center. That’s also what strikes us as funny. We’re decidedly, and by choice, not on the good side of town. BTW, north is the good side because the smoke from the railroad in the steam days, tended to drift south.


  2. msgeode says:

    I believe the aggravated problem is that you had someone originally inspect the property because you wanted to use the best approach to abide by the business law and city code regulations.

    When we had a surveying firm, called Southern Ohio Surveys, my husband became concerned that he might be acting illegally by surveying within the designated area of forest that U.S. Forest Service claimed was part of the Wayne National Forest, even though it was not official Federal property. That is, only 10 percent to 20 percent of the heavily forested region in southern Ohio was actually Wayne National Forest.

    So we struggled with the apparent questions:

    What if none of the private property lines surveyed in the rural area touched Federal forestry lines? Would it be acceptable to proceed on a private survey?

    What if the surveyed lines were in the city limits proper, and could not possibly be land owned and maintained by the Federal government’s plan for the national forest?

    And so on . . . .

    A wiser notion prevailed in this matter, and it challenged the maxim that espouses in the hypotheticals: If I break a law or moral business code unknowingly, am I in the wrong? Or, should I do “the right thing” — and ask ahead of time if I could err in the wrong by proceeding?

    So, if surveyors, there being five in southern Ohio, did not ask ahead of time about such property boundary matters, are they in the wrong by proceeding to do the jobs?

    And, we decided that it is good to practice due diligence — and NOT ASK his supervisor, the ranger, whether we could survey in certain areas, or not. And, if no dispute arose, then we definitely had proceeded with good business judgment.

    So, that property inspector brought on to your land has made it an active question of code violations, possibly to perpetuity. If you had not been fair and just, and had tried to do the right thing in this instance, then the city could only guess at your possible violations.

    This presses the limits of the question — Can someone unring a bell?

    LOL! But, not funny.



    • msgeode says:

      By the way, I was a longterm Republican in southern Ohio, a staunch Republican region at the time — until the local juvenile court judge put three teenage girls who had skipped school one day in the jail that also housed adult males. He called it shock therapy. That night, the trustee opened the doors, and the three teens were raped by the males incarcerated there. The judge made the national magazine news when Hustler told the story. The judge was designated as “a–hole of the month” by the editors. The county had to pay $100,000 in court judgment to the parents, and no one could ever right that wrong for the violated youths.

      Then, around that time, five mysteriously had burnt up in a fire the night before they were supposed to testify in court about multiple votes cast for a state senator’s son running for another judgeship in the county.

      Incidentally, the building housing our conservancy office was also burnt to the ground in the same time period. Luckily, it happened at night when the ediface was vacant. Those in the fraudulent voting scheme were not so fortunate in their night-time fire.


      • Yes, it is decidedly not about any one party, it’s about having ONLY one party. Those trustees should have been turned over to the girls families, in my opinion. And Hustler was too kind to the judge.

        And that’s the real problem, we (as society) can impose whatever punishment we think is just but, the damage done to the victim is still done and cannot be undone.

        The only thing that keeps society moral is the morality of the members of society. Answers, I haven’t any, really, But it begins with proper education.


    • Good point. I believe the Marine’s have an adage “Better to be forgiven than forbidden”. Apparently applies to this nonsense, too.


  3. msgeode says:


    I shall ever hear.
    Wind in the leaves
    the fistulous rustling:
    It riffles my symmetry
    as only the warm gusts
    can turn and thrill
    a thousand inner

    The lead was not reproduced, above.


    From Zephyr Ea: My Way of Knowingr¸2002
    dedicated to
    Jessica Faye Childers Gomez
    The Child of Mother Earth

    Liver of the White Buffalo, 2002
    dedicated to
    John Kevin Childers,
    The Most Creative Person I know


  4. msgeode says:

    The leaf was not reproduced above.


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