February 12, 2016

LETTER: Planning Commission intrudes on property rights

Lee Cape

This e-mail is in response to a March 25, 2011 article that I read concerning Austin’s Bar and Grill and the Gardner Planning Commission.  As a recent convert to the natural rights libertarian way of thinking about the purpose of government as a result of the growing nonsensical out of control currency debasement, war, patronage etc., I have to say that the article incensed me.

I find it ridiculous that a private business (Austin’s) on private property (Moonlight Commons strip mall) is lorded over by a bunch of busy body bureaucrats that somehow think it’s their civic duty and right to regulate and dictate such trivial things as the ‘open gate’, and the ‘aesthetic appeal of the materials utilized on the base of the structure.’  We are still in the United States of America, correct?

The more I read and the more I learn, the more I see the government involving itself in an ever-growing myriad and multitude of areas of life where it should not be.  Since when did it become the right or purpose of the government to determine the use of private property?

Probably during the early Progressive Era I am guessing.  I read that the patio, which was created to accommodate smokers, (which should also be the right of the private property owners to allow or disallow smoking on their private property) cost Austin’s Bar and Grill  $100,000 to construct.

Phil DiVilbiss, developer, mentions other businesses’ of his in Lawrence going out of business as a result of the diktats of the state of Kansas.  I have also heard that here in Gardner, the local ACE Hardware lost somewhere around 30 percent of its income as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus bill) money and continual road construction hampered access of customers to the business for months on end.

Now, I realize the government doesn’t really ever have to worry about a balance sheet, because it always has the force of the law and the gun behind it, but businesses and private property owners don’t have that privilege.  So, I find it first of all comical and disturbing that the ‘Planning Commission’ of Gardner has the right to dictate to private business owners such onerous details of business construction as:

1. Gates being left open, supposedly blocking the sidewalk on private property
2. Partial loss of a parking place because the faux base comes a few inches from the curb.  As if people are so stupid as to run into the patio.  Which some may, but it’s still not any of the City’s business.
3. Complaining and having a say in the ‘unpleasing to the eye’ colored braces for the removable glass panels.
4. The ‘aesthetic appeal’ of the materials used at the base of the patio.
5. The decorative metal tubing used near the top of the windows.
6  The red colored support beams that take away from the ‘visual appeal.’

It’s no wonder politicians are so corrupt.  All this red tape, all these diktats add to costs which get passed on to the customer, pick the pocket of business owners, cause layoffs, or prevent hiring, and force people to lobby and put people in power that will advocate for their interests regarding nonsense like this.  Maybe more Americans should read the Declaration of Independence where it states that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of people to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

With The Kansas City Star reporting that the state of Kansas lost 12,800 jobs in the month of February, maybe it’s time to think about why.


  1. And it’s not so much that it interferes with a smoker’s freedom to smoke in a bar or restaurant but it interferes with the property rights of the owner of that property to decided whether or not to allow smoking. Entering and eating at a restaurant is completely voluntary and a non-smoker can eschew patronizing a restaurant that allows smoking and make their voice heard.. and if there is a market for non smoking establishments, which there most definitely is, then it’s the right of the property owner to decide that. Does the government have the right to tell me that I cannot allow smoking in my house? What is the difference? If I smoke in my house all the time then my non smoking friends will be more disinclined to visit my house. Just like a business. You don’t need to use force to bring this about.

  2. Charlie K says:

    Do you mean what are our rights specifically? Or what is my personal definition of rights and how is it different that yours? I think your definition sums it up well and I would say simply that which we are naturally entitled to as human beings.

    I agree with your statement that the government should be there to protect us from having our rights violated by others and that we should be free to do what we want so long as we don’t violate the rights of ours. The point I was trying to make with my examples was that what someone considers as their right varies from person to person. You could rely on the free market to determine an establishments smoking preference, but let me ask you is that a business decision or is it a right? As in, do you have a right to breathe clean air wherever you go?

    Or what about children? There are many laws that exist to protect children because they are unable to protect themselves? So what about unfit parents who bring infants into a very smokey environment?

    My point is I feel like everything is kind of a gray area. If it’s your right to breathe clean air and it’s your right to go wherever you want, then does a smoking ban protect your rights? Again not saying I support smoking bans, just trying to make a point.

    It’s very difficult to set down a write a list of what everyone’s right are because most rights are going to be contradictory. I think it’s my right and my children’s right to be able to breath clean air, especially at my house on my property. But if my neighbor can do whatever he wants on his property then can he burn a big pile of tires? I just think you asking for too many specifics.

  3. Yes, I would agree that what some consider their rights differs from person to person, and that is the big problem in society.


    It’s a right for a business owner to decided whether or not to allow smoking in their bar/restaurant or not. It is their property. If other people have a right over other’s properties then they have control over your life. Same applies to money in our pockets. I earned with my body, mind, or hands. Therefore it is mine and not subject to theft by others. As is property. Really money is nothing more than a medium of exchange in labor and property.

    I would agree that since the air cannot be owned, some standards need to be there to protect us and others from people or businesses or power plants from excessively polluting the environment and the air we breathe.

    We don’t have a ‘right’ to go anywhere we want. I don’t have a right to come into your house or come onto your property, and nor does anyone have a ‘right’ to come in to any restaurant and begin dictating to the owner how they will run their business just as I or no one else has a right to dictate what goes on in your house or my house.

    I think you are going overboard when you talk about someone burning a pile of leaves or tires on their property. It would come down to determining what is actually detrimental to you or my family as far as the law is concerned. If we are going to try and live in a 0% pollutant free society, then we better scrap the entire transporation system and return to horses… but even they poop, and their smell might infringe on my air quality as well.

    I understand your point and I do agree to a point that everyone cannot pollute to their hearts desire because yes, that infringes on others property in their person.
    So, I would agree that communally shared resources such as air cannot be polluted a

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