John Sabal: Property rights no light matter
This is in response to the Silverthorne Town Council’s open of Aug. 6. They state: “… the ballot issue is nothing more than eight property owners attempting to stop the town from expanding a long-standing easement.”
Immaterial to this discussion is the number of people blocking the project. John Stuart Mill asserted “If all of mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” “Majority rule” doesn’t apply when basic rights – such as the right not to have your land taken for light and transient reasons – are violated.Also, the town seems to think a “long-standing” easement provides them with extra authority in this transaction. As the town wants to change the easement, however long it’s existed is also immaterial to the discussion.Without these irrelevant statements, then, the ballot issue becomes “nothing more than … expanding an … easement.” And that’s exactly the problem. Right now there’s a 10-foot easement for a “walking path,” but the town wants to expand that easement to 25 feet for an asphalt thoroughfare, something entirely different. The town writes: “These few landowners absolutely refuse to negotiate.” That is their right, and if we don’t like it we cannot strip them of that right, no matter how many of us disagree.Elsewhere in their letter the town expects us to swallow the statement that the easement expansion is an attempt by the town “to defend our own property rights.” They’re joking, right? Who’s rights need to be defended when property is being taken? Certainly not the town’s!And what is this all for, curing a health and safety issue? Are people being injured on the current route? Or is the real motivation for doing this “it would be nice if a bike path went there?” Seizure is a very serious step, and it had better be for a very good reason such as curing blight – not mere convenience, aesthetics, or neat and tidy realization of a goal. I urge my fellow citizens to vote “yes.”
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