Morgan County is a member of the Council of Local Governments along with Laclede, Miller and Camden Counties. As a resident of Morgan County, I wanted to see what these concerns were with the planning and zoning revisions. With regards to governance, as goes Camden County so goes Miller, Morgan and Laclede counties in the very near future.
A recent article titled, "Citizens voice concerns with Camden planning and zoning code revisions" barely touches on the “real” concerns the residents of Camden have with the P&Z commission. I spoke to several attendees at the public hearing and there were a LOT of concerns.
To begin with, the P&Z is headed by Don Hathaway, who lives in Morgan County and does not have a vested interest in these regulations he is forcing on the citizens of Camden County. The Board is an 11-member panel and four of these members are also on the P&Z sub-committee, all are appointed by the commissioner. There are no check and balances here or separation of powers.
Everyone on the Board of Adjustments are also picked by the Commissioner. Ten board members on the P&Z commission are assigned as representatives to "townships." Many at the meeting expressed their concerns about “their” assigned representatives as they were told their reps were advised not to talk to public citizens. The very people they are suppose to represent, the tax-paying citizen.
One of the strangest things I witnessed was the board expressing their displeasure when the citizens broke out in applause after every speaker, showing approval for their comments.
One member of the board actually hinted that if the applause did not stop the meeting would end. This is a first amendment right and the board, whether paid or volunteer, was trying to suppress their right to free speech.
Most of the people attending this hearing were tax-paying citizens of Camden County and the county exists to serve the citizens of Camden County. Another board member approved a citizens request to raise their hands if they agreed with a comment in order for the commission to ascertain how many were in favor of a comment. It made me wonder if the board really cared if the citizens were in favor of anything, in light of the fact that they were trying to deny these very citizens of their civil rights.
The code spells out some illogical purpose and absurd necessity for the code in Section 102 which reads, “The purpose and necessity of the new code is to protect public health, safety, MORALS, and/or general welfare, through the regulation of the use of land....” with regards to the appropriate use of the land, overcrowding of the land, conserving the value of the land, traffic congestion, congestion of population, Providing adequate light and air....” etcetera, “for the Master Plan that was approved by the “Planning Commission.”
Page 2 of 3 - Stop and think about this for a moment: what are they talking about here? Is this a building code for land developers and general contractors requiring them to a higher standard and quality of construction?
Or are they talking about over population of cattle that overcrowd the land and roads causing congestion, put in cattle cars and need adequate light and air.
And what is this about the purpose and necessity to regulate morals? Morals is about an individual’s ethical standards of what is right or wrong. “Morals” is not found in the definition section of this code.
Are they talking about a moral imperative here?
What does the general welfare of the use of your land mean? It is almost as if the commission was giving human qualities to the “land.”
“It's not the right of property which is protected, but the right to property. Property per se, has no rights; but the individual – the man does.” -Justice Geo. Sutherland
Other concerns seemed to be with the “sole discretion” the administrators gave themselves.
The fact that an administrator could come onto their property without a some written authorization of notice or intent, that they could seek enforcement without prior notice by invoking penalties and/or remedies authorized by this new code.
The code reads, “Whenever any act is prohibited by this code, or is declared unlawful, or an offense or misdemeanor.... A finding by the Commission or conviction of a violation..of this code...the violator shall be fined up to $500 a day.”
In Section 605.100 says that every day any violation of this code continues shall constitute a separate offense. The Administration even has authorized itself the ability to notify your lender, banker and/or insurance company of your code violation. A citizens stated at the hearing felt they would be given a “black mark” before they were even found guilty.
Our Missouri Constitution states in Article 1, sect 15, “Unreasonable search and seizure prohibited – contents and basis of warrants. - That the people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes and effects, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant to search any place, OR seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, OR the person or thing to be seized, as nearly as may be; nor without probable cause, supported by written oath or affirmation.”
Now this “Unreasonable search and seizure” in Sect. 15, does not specify if this is for civil or criminal offense, it just prohibits it, period.
There are several sections in the Missouri Constitution that specifies whether it's for a criminal purpose, but this section does not. Now legal heads will say that Sect 15 is only for of criminal purpose, but that is not what this Section states, it does not qualify criminal vs civil purpose.
Page 3 of 3 - I believe that this new land-use code usurps the laws protecting private property rights through unreasonable search enforced by excessive fees and fines.