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Local Government has Power to Preserve Property Rights

Written By: Jerry Hanson  |  Posted: Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Landowners in Wisconsin and around the country need township and county supervisors who have backbones to stand-up for the property rights of their constituents. There are local units of government in eleven states that have been successful in thwarting both state and federal agencies from imposing land controlling "Smart Growth" policies on their communities without their approval. That means that if you and I will get involved in our local government, we can encourage them to notify all state and federal agencies of their statutory obligation to "coordinate" with the local unit of government by providing early notification to them of all plans and actions of the agency that will affect the local jurisdiction. The local unit of government must also be afforded the opportunity for meaningful input, which means their input must be considered and applied by the agency.

The agency is required to make all practicable effort to make the federal or state policy, plan, or action consistent with the local policy or plan. So why are are township and county boards of supervisors cowering to unelected bureaucrats in the state Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and such like? Probably because of attorneys who are either proponents of "Smart Growth" or who are uninformed, who have "counseled" the townships and their associations that they have to go along with the bureaucrat's plans. The legal process that is being employed successfully by local governments in California, Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas is called "Coordination." The requirement for government agencies to coordinate with local governments is found in most federal and state land use statutes. Coordination means far more than one might realize. State and federal agencies like to make us citizens and our local governments think "coordination" is synonymous with "consultation, " implying we have to go along with their plans and demands. However, the word coordinate is a word of common usage, and when interpreted by the courts, the common dictionary definition is adopted. Webster's New International Dictionary defines coordinate as "of equal importance, rank or degree, not subordinate." It implies harmonious interaction. In Wisconsin statutes the word coordination occurs 153 times. Both the federal and state legislatures have used this word often and deliberately, thereby recognizing the authority local governments have in protecting their constituents' liberties.

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