January 6, 2016
“My neighbor likes to expand his lot,” Kelly told me. “First he put up a stone fence on our property and then he built a jungle gym for his kids on his other neighbor’s property.” The fence stayed but the jungle gym came down.
Laws and fences help make good neighbors.
Often these “laws” are ordinances passed by local communities. We decide collectively what works for our neighborhood, and what works in some areas will not work in other areas. You can’t have roosters in most cities. But in some cities, you can keep a few hens.
Moving at warp speed in the Capitol is legislation that would change what your neighbor could do on his/her property and would limit your local community from taking a position to protect you and your other neighbors.
When does your neighbor’s property right limit your own rights? What if your neighbor built a fireworks factory next door? How about a large hog operation? Or an industrial sand mine?
In a bill, introduced just before Christmas and due to have a public hearing before you read this, the simple action of applying for a driveway permit or a state culvert permit could “freeze in place” any local ordinance or state law.
For example, on the date a person applies for a driveway permit and discloses a proposed project, the ordinances and rules of all levels of local and state government could be frozen in place on that date provided the driveway is constructed within a stated deadline – even though some aspects of the project may not be completed for many years.
Expanding a little known part of the law related to housing developments, the bill (Senate Bill 464 and its companion Assembly Bill 582) creates a loophole so big that the approval of a culvert permit in Kenosha could affect a development in Eau Claire.
In addition, if the developer first sought permission from the state for a minor permit, locals might not even know the granting of that state permit would mean the entire project had become a “vested right” of the developer.