From the News & Advance:
“The Lynchburg Planning Commission voted in favor of a new ordinance Wednesday that will allow zoning officials to obtain warrants to enter homes where zoning violations are suspected.”
“Fowler said zoning had not requested that power before because it has traditionally been able to resolve complaints without it. But in the past year, he has “hit a brick wall” in two specific cases, he said.”
“… he did not expect that inspection warrants would be needed often.”
“If concerns not related to the zoning ordinance were noted, such as possible criminal activity, the inspector would refer it to the police or other appropriate enforcement agency.”
“it was unlikely that the city would break locks or use other forms of force to gain entry to a house.”
““I’m very confident this will not be abused and it will be very helpful to our city,” said Commissioner James Coleman.”
Unlike James Coleman, I’m very confident that it WILL be abused, as is everything in government, and that the city will begin breaking locks and forcing their way into homes. Call it “unlikely” as they may, what that really means is, we aren’t saying it won’t happen, so that when it does, we can say it was an “extreme” case and then use it as precedent to do it the next time.
Two specific cases should not merit throwing the rest of us under the bus. The police can’t solve every single crime, but no one is saying they should be allowed to use “more tools” than they currently have just because they’ve “hit a brick wall.”
What you can do:
City Planning Commission – 434.455.3917
(to request copy of the language of the amendment and planning commission meeting minutes)
City Council Members:
(To encourage them to vote “NO” on the Planning Commission Amendment)
Mayor Joan Foster (At Large):
(Unknown, Encourage her to vote NO because you need her to defend you and that after all she’s accomplished, it would be a great tragedy for the narrative of her time in office to be defined by the stripping of landowners of their property rights and for her vote to open the door for her citizens to be abused by their own local government)
Vice-Mayor Ceasor Johnson (Ward 2):
(Unknown, Encourage him to defend the rights of his constituents as property owners by voting NO, knowing that minorities have always borne the brunt of government abuses of law and that this would leave those with the least ability to defend themselves, at the mercy of zoning inspectors that may not be as ethical as he is.)
Michael Gillette (Ward 1):
(Unknown, encourage him to vote NO and defend your rights as a private citizen because the ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS are too great to be ignored.)
Randy Nelson (At Large):
(Unknown but likely leaning towards, Encourage him to vote NO and defend the rights of property owners, knowing that doing otherwise would open the citizens to gross abuses of the criminal system, specifically the reporting to law enforcement of any suspected criminal activity by untrained non-law enforcement government employees and that the city would likely suffer from lawsuits every time it was used, and that in the current economic climate, it’s simply not necessary or prudent.
Turner Perrow (Ward 4):
(Thank him for his conservative votes in the past and encourage him to stand up for your rights as property owners by voting NO)
H. Cary (At Large):
(Encourage him to continue to be a solid NO vote on the amendment)
Jeff Helgeson (Ward 3):
(Thank him for being a solid NO vote on the amendment)
Your friends and neighbors in the city! Have them email the council members as well if they are citizens of Lynchburg.
Show up Tues. June 28 to city council and make yourself seen as opposition (even if you don’t live in the city).
Speak at the city council meeting. (If you are interested, reply back so that speakers can be coordinated on topic, bullet points, etc…)