Government Hypocrisy is Alive and Well
The following Hub article was a “GUEST COLUMN” that was published in the Georgetown (Kentucky) News-Graphic newspaper @ September 16, 2010
The Hypocrisy of Government is Dumbfounding at Times....
It never ceases to amaze me how little actual review, thought, and consideration often goes into a decision by our government agencies. Negative emotions, innuendos, unfounded accusations, and wild assumptions typically rule the day, often producing unstalwart and hypocritical decisions driven by our representatives’ needs to appear more knowledgeable and experienced than they truly are. The meeting of the Scott County Board of Adjustment, in Georgetown, Kentucky last August (August 17, 2010) produced yet another example of these tendencies.
The issue revolved around an application made by a Farm on Iron Works Road for a Conditional Use Permit to operate a temporary RV parking area for no more than fifteen RV’s to accommodate some of the Farm owner’s friends and a few others while they attended the World Equestrian Games being so proudly promoted in the Bluegrass Region that September. There were few available accommodations in the region for such visitors to the upcoming Games. Beyond this, their intention was also to make some minor improvements to the property, and in the process add some income to the Farm coffers to help subsidize the effects of the poor economy and some financial setbacks that threatened the Farm with foreclosure. Hard times often call for creative solutions. The application for the Permit was complete with a comprehensive and professional plan for dealing effectively with safety, environmental, and health related concerns. The County Staff had recommended additional mitigation requirements in their recommendation to approve the Permit, and the Farm owner had agreed to comply. A similar proposal for up to twenty RV’s was approved by the Board earlier in the meeting for another operation and site located nearby in Georgetown.
Notices of the Farm application had been sent to the adjoining neighbors and the Farm owner had discussed the plan with several who had voiced support; others came to the meeting though prepared to oppose it, either not knowing or not caring that most of their legitimate concerns had been or would be resolved. As typically occurs in such situations there were rumors flying around that the Farm owner really wanted to create a much larger, permanent business on site even though the application was clearly for a very temporary site to host a very limited number of visitors to the WEG.
One of the so-called-neighbors, a cattle farmer whose property lay about a quarter mile from the proposed parking area, voiced adamant concern about wild dogs and kids trespassing and chasing her cattle. I couldn’t figure out who she was referring to since there were no kids or dogs on the farm property then, and the proposed guests would all be attending the WEG, and probably not interested in some impromptu rodeo. She also spewed forth concern about the collection and disposal of sewage from the RV units, which made me wonder how she disposed of her herd’s waste, since she seemed to have so much of it with her. RV’ers tend to be very concerned environmentally, and it seemed likely to me at least that five or six cows would cast about far more fecal material and pollution than any fifteen or so RV’ers. This reminded me of attempts by certain California coastal cities to blame boaters for their river and bay pollution while the local stock yards, city drains, and sewage systems overflowed into the waterways with impunity whenever it rained.
Another neighbor, a senior administrator at a nearby University, who had obviously not read the application or taken the time to learn about the proposal, voiced a number of far-fetched concerns regarding gangs of people trespassing on their property, late-night partying, and some wild scenario involving the RV’ers taking over their nearby barn for shelter in the event of a rain storm. They obviously had the proposed RV’ers confused with a football weekend frat party at the University rather than a quiet group of responsible adults happy to have a safe and clean place to stay while they participated in the WEG. They also voiced some bizarre contention that drinking water from the outdoor faucet on the property, and some imagined garden hose, would make people sick, and would require some additional health permits. They are not farmers or RV’ers so their concerns about sewage and garbage disposal were perhaps more legitimate, though still easily resolved. Their main contention seemed to revolve around their belief that visitors to the WEG, and particularly visitors driving RV’s, would most likely be irresponsible “white trash” and certainly not respectable or responsible persons. Most egregiously, they complained that the RV’s would obscure the view from their garage of their neighbor’s farm.
To help bolster their argument, the academic neighbors had recruited several so-called environmentalists from Fayette County who had no specific complaints and admitted that they had not reviewed any of the material, but came to oppose the project regardless. One of them started to oppose the other site application when it came up for approval, but then withdrew when she realized her mistake. When the Farm application came up she started again to complain about potential pollution from unfettered holding tanks, but then probably realized her hypocrisy and the fact that the issue was dealt with, and then focused her argument primarily on the negative impacts that the WEG and the burgeoning Kentucky Horse Park were about to have on the area lifestyle and environment from all of the subsequent traffic, people, jobs and money they would sponsor. With such a warm “Kentucky welcome” in-store the “world” was probably best advised not to show up for the WEG, and there is little doubt that the area will return to its former self soon after the Games.
In the end, the Board voted to deny the Farm’s Conditional Use Permit, swayed by more negative voices than positive, citing concerns about safety related to conditions and traffic on Iron Works Road, even though fifteen parked RV’s would do little to impact either the conditions or traffic, and environmental issues, which is the typical “catch-all” excuse for disapproving anything and everything. In the context of their denial as the discussion expanded, the Board did determine that the owners were well within their rights to host as many RV’s on the property for as long as they wished without a permit (despite their so-called concerns for public safety and the environment) as long as they did not operate as a business. So in essence they said….. “It’s OK to do it, just don’t make any money at it, and don’t worry about all those environmental and safety concerns, as long as you’re not charging”. Ultimately, that little victory for property rights did little to assuage the more blaring defeat of common sense by the Board, and the so-called concerned neighbors. The hearing had accomplished little; the Farm could still host their friends and as many RV’s as they wished, and do so then without any of the County guidance and oversight they had sought before, and government had dodged its responsibility and proved once again its inability to see beyond the hype and hyperbole of an issue.
As for me, I was beginning to feel homesick for California, and this whole process made me feel right at home again, almost as if I were still there in that political bastion of nonsense.
(c) Copyright James McV 2010