Friday, May 21, 2010


I have always been a bit of a nonconformist. I think that's why people who knew me as a child (but not as an adult) are surprised that I am going into ministry, though I think becoming a UU minister is pretty nonconformist!

Lately, I have been feeling constrained by a preponderance of rules in the world. Often, this is the speed limit ;). But some of it is just how one has to get "special" permission for so many things. And so many rules are made to deal with common sense issues, that are not always black and white.

Currently my town code enforcement is driving me crazy. They want me to get rid of my chickens because we technically live in residential zoning, not residential-agricultural. However, RA zoning says that you can have chickens if they are more than 200 ft. away from another residence. Even though we're R, our chickens are WAY more than 200 ft. from another residence, because we have 2 acres. The zoning officer told me I could file a variance and promised to send me the specific code so I could use it to fill out the paperwork, but he didn't.

Then yesterday, I got a letter saying that we had to get rid of the chickens and he wouldn't ALLOW a variance. And, he said it would cost $75, but there is no list of variance costs, let alone the codes themselves online. I think he just made it up, as there is a blank line on the form to fill in the variance fee. Shouldn't there be a specific amount for variances? I mean, the FINE is only $25 but they want $75 to file the variance?

I am feeling ridiculously up in arms about this, but am doing my best to remain super-polite to the code officer. It seems that he is on a bender in our neighborhood and other neighbors have felt his wrath as well. One of the joys in living in small town America I guess.

Anyway, this is the kind of thing that makes me want to be a Libertarian. And things like making kids wear shoes at the Museum of Play. Or in the archeological dig at RMSC, where your shoes immediately get filled with recycled tire bits, which is supposed to be dirt. Or having to park facing the "correct" way on the street (I got a warning about this on my very rural street in front of my house two weeks ago!). Or random age discrimination, like not allowing minors to volunteer at lots of places. I could go on but I'll stop.


Steve Caldwell said...

To put this in UU theological terms, the difficulties we often encounter when living in relationship with others is the tension between our first and seventh UU principle.

From a first principle point of view (e.g. respecting the worth and dignity of every person), many rules in society don't make sense. Libertarianism in its ideal sense is an example of this.

From a seventh principle point of view, rules often exist because our individual actions do affect others. Communitarianism in its ideal sense is an example of this.

Before you decide to drink the Rand Paul libertarian kool-aid, there are things you can do about your chicken and zoning problem. Local politicians do have to run for re-election and they may be helpful in terms of finding a solution to your situation.

Diggitt said...

Kelly, I'm with Steve on this. Your elected officials are the people who make the laws in the first place. Contact each one separately. Tell your story five or seven times if you have to. Do you have an elected administrative officer or is the supervisor or manager employed? Contact him/her too. None of them necessarily has a clue what is going on with employees like inspectors. Maybe the inspector is looking for a bribe or has a sister-in-law who wants the chickens out -- this is what local government is about, sad to say. Note that many local governments are closed Friday afternoon, so call first thing in the morning. If your municipality has a website, each elected official should have a separate email address there as well. or call them at home. Don't be bashful! When I was an elected official I got calls about the darnedest things but assumed it went with the territory.

Kelly KH said...

Diggitt, don't worry, I haven't given up ;) I talked to the Mayor, who is talking to the Village attorney and if that doesn't work, I will go to the County Planning Commission.