How to Understand and Use the Planners’ Resolutions
December 9th, 2012 by John Anthony
Understanding the Resolution documents
Sustainable Freedom Lab has created two versions of the “Planners’ Resolution” to help you move personal property rights to the top of your community’s priority list at your next town meeting that involves planning or zoning.
Why communities need a Planners’ Resolution:
Both Planners’ Resolutions move officials and planners to discuss the lone topic most avoid:
- What will be the impact on your property now and in the future if plans are implemented and
- What will they do to protect your property rights?
If presented effectively, this simple piece of paper can move the entire planning conversation toward protection of property rights BEFORE the community engages planners.
Easy way to explain the idea of a Planners’ Resolution to neighbors and other community members:
If a plumber works in your home, you would have an agreement that he or she would do no damage to your existing property or you would be compensated.
The same should apply to planners who have the potential to have a much greater effect on your property, your taxes, your home value and even your lifestyle choices than the plumber does.
Planners contract through public officials to create planning and accompanying zoning regulations. They often recommend conservation easements, open spaces, zoning regulations, walkable communities, grant money and more. Any of these can infringe on your property rights.
The Planners’ Resolutions are simply common sense:
It is only common sense that any planner engaged by your community should have to sign an agreement giving citizens full disclosure of potential damages that may result from the plans they recommend and a method to receive compensation for losses they may incur, or to opt out altogether.
#1 “The Planners’ Resolution to Protect Citizens’ Property Rights”
When to use this:
Use this document when you want a simpler form that will enable your local public official to work with you to hold planners accountable before engaging them.
The benefit of the simpler format is that there is less for officials to protest, yet it still establishes the protection of property ownership as a key concern before entering into planning.
The drawback is that, while this document exposes public officials who hesitate to use it, it does not hold them accountable; only the planners.
Additionally, this document does not address compensation for fair market loss.
#2 “Officials’ and Planners’ Resolution to Protect Citizens’ Property Rights”
When to use this:
Use this document to hold both your public officials and planners accountable to protect citizens’ property rights before beginning planning.
“The Officials’ and Planners’ Resolution to Protect Citizen’s Property Rights” must be signed by planners and your public officials, putting them both on record they will protect your property rights prior to the beginning of any planning.
The document is also more thorough in addressing possible financial compensation for losses incurred.
The wordier the document, the easier it is for the public official to dodge the issue by sending it to legal for a review. This can stall your momentum. In addition, it may be difficult to measure the specific individual loss as that loss may occur over future years or even more as a collective community than as an individual property. As with the prior resolution, however, mentioning this will expose those who are willing to ignore your personal property rights in favor of ‘community’ programs.
How to use the Resolution documents
There are 6 steps to follow to use either of the Resolutions:
- Prepare: At the next town meeting that involves planning discussion, bring along supporters who understand the importance of the resolution. Prior to the meeting, ask volunteers to support you if an official or any other attendee should try to stop your presentation of the document. For instance, if someone objects as you are reading the document, have another person ready to counter this by saying; they would like to hear what you have to say. Also, research and have the name of a person or community that has lost their property rights. You may not need this, but it will help you better understand the risks of planning.
- Segment, if necessary: If you only have a very limited amount of time to speak, you may want to have open person read the beginning while another finishes during their speaking turn. (*Note: This should not be problem, as the document is short and can be read in about one minute.)
- Set the stage: At the meeting, as you approach the microphone, open by saying, “I understand the importance of planning and protecting our resources. I am equally concerned about the protection of our property rights during and after the process. I would like the board and the community to consider having this document signed.”
- Read the document: Provide each public official with the document, and then read it aloud. Allow for discussion.
- Follow up: Ask you public officials to review the document and bring it up again at the next meeting for approval.
- Persistence: If all goes well, the board of officials will agree to have planners sign the resolution. However, it does not matter if they refuse. You have made the issue of protecting property rights forint and center. From each meeting forward, you must continue to build on any momentum by providing examples of people who have lost their property rights.
If planners come into your community, approach them with the resolution. As you talk, always present your case in calm and reasonable terms. Let the planners or officials blow up or get angry, while you remain the voice of reason. If you persist, you can win over the community. Remember, the truth is on your side and you have the high ground in this discussion. Sustainablists will eventually expose themselves, giving you even more power to stop liberty robbing programs in your community.
Continue to educate the public with flyers and kitchen table discussions. Explain the risks planning present and the potential losses to their property values. Once local residents are aware of the risks involved, you are in a position to push back sustainable development plans.