Letter: On property rights
The US of A is nearly unique among the nations of the world in codifying and protecting private property rights. As a result of these laws and protections, property owners are not beholden to elected officials in the use of their property. Laws, in the form of zoning ordinance, dictate how a property will be developed, and there is no political component to the process (or should not be). These laws establish a use “by right,” which the politicians can’t prevent. The exceptions are when a property owner wants to develop outside of the law, requiring variances, annexation, rezoning, etc.
A new four-unit apartment building is under construction at the northeast corner of Sopris Avenue and Second Street in Carbondale. This building is a welcome addition to the woefully undersupplied rental market in Carbondale. The building was subjected to the political process for two reasons: the owner wanted to build a building with four units instead of three, and the owner wanted to build closer to the street that the law currently allows.
Had the owner proposed a building with three units inside of the specified setback, the building would have been approved “by right” and the politicians would have never known of the project until they noticed the construction in progress. During the public hearings, Trustee A.J. Hobbs said, “These are the types of buildings I believe I was elected to stop.” Well, I’m sorry Mr. Hobbs, but according to the zoning laws, that building is exactly the type of building that the town wants on that property, and you would be violating the law if you were to stop it by political caprice.
To the “99 percenters” who fear that a single owner of a large portion of the downtown is detrimental, let me put your mind at ease. The most profitable development of these properties is “by right,” which in the HCC-zoned downtown is a three-story building built lot line to lot line. If Barb Coddington and others feel that this is a threat to Carbondale, they have recourse: buy the property.
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