17 August 2010

Racing to the bottom on Zoning and Property Rights

Reason, and its blog, have been on top of eminent domain abuse since their inception. They shined with learned opposition to the Kelo decision. Even this week, Hit & Run posted an insightful article exposing property rights abuses (through 'blight' ordinances) in Montgomery, Alabama (Sorry, I swear this evidence was on their blog this AM. I was sent a working link to it. Memory holes have been tricky since 1984).

All of that experience and insight evaporates as soon as religion is an element in the topic at hand. The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church languishes, bound and strangled in New York Port Authority red tape for seven years, then cuts a deal with the Port Authority to relocate in the same neighborhood. If you want to read about that one on Reason you have to go into the comments to read what their online readers have to say about this blatant abuse of private property rights.

Does Reason ignore every religious property that gets stepped on by the state? Of course not. In true, Left-leaning form, they leaped to take sides on the Cordoba Mosque project. They joined the Leftist echo-chamber with shouts of bigotry and made sure to bash Sarah Palin in the process. Where is the outrage about the zoning abuses? For months a handful of their commentators, like some other fellow who goes by John, Suki my blog partner, and others were talking about the uneven handedness of New York City when it comes to property rights as soon as Reason began championing the Cordoba Mosque and their new-found support of freedom to worship. Frankly, this unwavering freedom is frequently expressed in the form of calling a wide swath of Christians 'fundamentalists' or 'fundies' in their stories, morning links, and in the comments' section of their blog. The commentators frequently pointed out that mayor Bloomberg never gave a care about property rights before a Mosque was making its way through the approval process. A process that ran at light-speed compared to others.

I wonder, if this were an Episcopal Church that got so many government favors, would perhaps another story be found besides “freedom of religion”? Especially with Commonwealth Edison as one of the property owners where the new place of worship is going to be built? Just a hunch that Matt Welch or Nick Gillespie could type that up between cosmotarian martinis and intern interviews.

The relevant issue for Libertarians (and libertarians) is, and always has been, the government using its regulatory power in an unequal manner. No matter if anybody besides the principles of the Greek Orthodox Church and the Port Authority of New York were the only ones aware of the Church issue, the basic issue remains. The Port Authority and the City used their powers to favor one organization while continuing to obstruct others. Discovering that the Greek Orthodox congregation has been stonewalled for almost ten years just makes the abuse that much worse.

Good thing Rush Limbaugh mentioned the Greek Orthodox situation on his show earlier today. Perhaps this aspect will get the mainstream media attention that has been missing since 9/11. The talkers on the Roe Cahn show (WLS-AM, 890, Chicago) even got it wrong right after the Limbaugh show.
Series tie-in: zoning boards are generally crippled in the future. You can build what you like on your own property.

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