We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, May 4. 2008
Good to see you Overlawyered folks visiting - check us out while you're here - you might like Maggie's Farm -
Re-posted from April 15, 2006 - forgot to post it on Tax Day. (As the weather improves, we like to go like totally Green and virtuously recyle old pieces a little bit, on weekends. To save Gaia.)
Here's my story for Tax Day. I could tell you far worse, but why spoil a nice day? As regular readers know, I live in a small, charming New England town in central Connecticut, not too far from Hartford, with no crime and with no problems, except made-up ones like the crisis of having Coke machines in the High School.
When Robert Frost wrote "Mending Wall," his sentence "Good fences make good neighbors" was intended to be ironic, at the least. But fences do matter, in life.
The folks who owned our little farm built a pool many years ago near the edge of the river - it's a nice trout stream which borders the southern end of our place. Yes, the pool was built before anyone ever heard of the word "wetlands." Nice pool, perfect for smoking an Uppmann Magnum next to, with a glass of Scotch, while dangling one's feet in the water, listening to the river and the birdies, and just generally enjoying being a late-middle-aged American fellow.
I go to down to our little Town Hall, just to stay on the right side of the law, to make a cautious inquiry. Town Hall sits in a nice old colonial house in the center of town, with a brick addition on the back. "It's about a pool fence," I tell the receptionist, who is doing nothing at all. "P&Z", she replies. I go up the stairs to P&Z, and wait for 20 minutes while it is decided that it is OK with the all-wise and all-knowing government for someone to install central vacuuming in their house.
"It's about a fence," I finally am able to say. "Go the Building Dept." I go to Building Dept., where there are two guys hanging around the desk. "It's about a pool fence." The guy is friendly and helpful. "Show me where on the map." I show him the property, and he says "Got to go to Wetlands first."
I am now running short on time. I go down the stairs and to the back to Wetlands. The nice young lady takes about 20 minutes to determine that the obvious fact that my property abuts a river. "You can't build a new fence there - that's a high-velocity flood zone."
"But I am required to have a fence around the pool", I insist, "because the town requires it". And then I made a foolish error, mainly because I was impatient and had limited time. "The old fence was washed away when Katrina blew through here in the fall, so all I need to know is whether it is OK to replace it."
"An unfenced pool? That is a zoning violation. I am obligated to inform the P&Z inspector." I sputtered "But but but..I only need to replace it." She replied "We will need it inspected first, but you are probably currently in violation, because we take pool safety seriously in this town. But construction in a wetlands flood zone will require a variance and a hearing which will take several months to schedule. You can begin by filling out these forms", she said, handing me a packet about one inch thick. "Honestly, I might suggest to you that you get a local lawyer to represent you in this matter, because these issues become complicated, especially when you want something grandfathered."
I'm a lawyer. But I know little about Land Use law. So I am supposed to hire some goofball who plays golf with the folks in Town Hall for a $2000. retainer?
As I leave, I wonder why there is no law for a fence on the river. Heck - a kid or turtle or fish or moron could drown in that. And no-one can see my pool from any other house or road, so it hardly qualifies as an "attractive nuisance." But I don't mind that much. Just another dumb law - we all get used to them in this era in which government tries to be everyone's parent. Too bad people who go into government tend not to be too...um...swift. As everyone knows, but that's OK.
And I also wonder about this: We must have fences around pools, but not around rivers and ponds and lakes - or the ocean. And no fences to protect our national borders. Which is more important? I don't mind being Frost's practical but un-soulful neighbor: I will gladly provide both my pool fence, and my national border fence.
The law may be an ass, but it's the law. But when it takes a specialized lawyer to understand the law, it's a big problem - and expense - for everybody. If our laws are not comprehensible, everybody loses. Except us lawyers.
Rebuilding your pool fence
We're requiring you to do it, but we're also forbidding you to do it, explain the nice folks at Town Hall (Maggie's Farm, May 4, via Never Yet Melted)....
Tracked: May 14, 00:15
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In the context of the Brits discovering that the solution to their illegal immigrant problem may be their socialized medicine [strike]scam[/strike system, I've been asking "Why don't they build a fence?"
So far nobody has tumbled to the fact that (a) they have a middling-sized moat around the place and don't need a flippin' fence thankyouverymuch, or (b) they still have a problem, and (c) maybe us building a fence is not certain to solve our problem. (You may recall that I got chased because I tried to shine a light on this issue, and I really don't intend to pursue it much this time. I'm just asking, ya' know?)
Good to hear it.
We believe in open, civil debate, and to all views.
We aspire to humility, but not to ignorance.
B, you probably should use the old 'definitions' dodge -- it's not a pool, it's not a fence. Call the pool 'frog habitat' and the fence 'termite habitat'.
I know this is a feebleminded question, but if your fence just washed away, why didn't you just replace it? Why ask a parasitic bureaucratic microbe for permission? Who would have even bothered to notice if you had replaced it?
Some jurisdictions require pemits for repair work.
Gotta keep in mind, income and control are the issues.
We have to get HOA approval to repaint our house if we change the colors.
pain in the neck, to be sure, but it helps your property values if your neighbor can't readily paint his house hot pink.
Just curious, does your town have a photo of every structure on file? If not, how do they know what color it was before the paint job? Do they canvas the street and take the word of old Ms. Crabtree, two doors down?
I'm sure it's a snitch system -- why wouldn't it be?
But if you replace the fence with exactly what was there before, why isn't that the same as repainting your house the same color....ie no permission required???
I think the city of Omaha requres a permit to replace your roof with one just like it.
Remember folks, the issues here are control and revenue.
I have been saying for many years that if "ignorance of the law is no excuse" then laws incomprehensible to the average layman, and laws which are not thoroughly publicised, represent the most egregious tyranny.
In the UK, I believe that the excuse for this mind-boggling doctrine has always been that it refers only to the criminal law, and any moral and right-thinking person should be entirely cognisant of the moral strictures which give rise to the just and transparent laws which populate the statute books.
This is, of course, pure aubergine puree.
I am amazed to see a lawyer agreeing, although, on reflection they're only doing so when their own pocket-book is being tapped.
Good fences make good neighbors was the blockhead neighbor's line, a cliche already.
Dang, if not in the middle of a mid-summer's night leprechaun carpenters didn't raise a fence around your pool. Now fancy that!
Face it barrister, they got you by the balls.
Never live in an incorporated area.
May I ask: Why the heck did you even bother going down to the government? I once sat in the waiting room of a planning office for nearly 2 hours; waiting for my number to be called. While there I struck up a conversation with another guy sitting there. I asked why he was there and his response was startling: " I began asking for a permit 3 years ago, they never got out to check the site, they never contacted me for meetings or appointments--they just rejected my plans for a 2 bedroom house. I have been living in my new home for nearly a year now and still waiting for them to review the plans with me!! So, I have to ask again Barrister--why? Why did you go to the government for such a simple little matter?
I can tell you where the real horror begins--the forced L.I.D.--Local Improvement District. Too long a story to go into the bloody details, but I can tell you, you get a run-a -way city council, you got trouble.
I put my upper limit on governability at about 10,000 people. More than that, your town is going to have waste, non-sense, and maybe even forced bloody LIDs you might have to fight in court.
Never live in an incorporated area.
Once people start living by regulations, there can never, ever, be enough of them.
The press is really the antidote to over-regulation by agencies (which are of course under the executive, and whose 'administrative law' is thus difficult to check, requiring as it does a special legislative action). The press can be the check & balance. B could've dropped by the local city desk and given it an amusing Catch-22-ish feature. But then of course he & his would've been in the bureaucracy's crosshairs for seven generations.
Buddy is right in # 11. Once you agree to trade some of your private property rights for the preservation of property value, there is no end to it. When the petty bureaucrats and politicians start deciding how to maintain private property, it creates the illusion for them that the property belongs to Government. From there it is just a short step to selling a neighborhood for a corporate campus or other large employment facility.
The government has the right and the power to take your land, your money (which it does daily), or your life - if and when it wants to.
There's a bill in committee right now that will put every drop on running water in the 50 states under federal control. being sold as a pollution measure under the Clean Water Act. expect lawsuits -- millyun$ and millyun$ of law$uit$.
but hey, what am I, against clean water? That makes me "for" dirty water? the hell with that, I'm voting Yay.
Why a fence? Why not something else which satisfies the nuisance hazzard and the wetland thing? I know it's a matter of principle and probably looks nice. But, why not something which bridges the gap and satisfies both? Perhaps one of those retractable surface covers will do the trick?
So if this is reported from April 2006, I have to ask ... what's happened since?