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Ken Rechtin's Another Voice: "Not In My Backyard (NIMBY)!"

Not surprisingly, the issues around our libraries and how they are governed drew a lot of comments and responses. But, much of what was said was not surprising: 
  • 97% said they LOVE THEIR LIBRARY. 
  • 85% said the libraries in NKY are governed well. 
  • Judges-Executive Gary Moore, Kris Knochelmann, and Steve Pendery, please take note that there are at least 43 folks in NKY who would like the opportunity to serve on the library board of directors. 
  • 32% feel that any board with taxing authority should be elected by the people. “How can we make this work?,” was the possibly rhetorical question posed by Robert Yoder. In a subsequent comment, Ken Moellman suggested that the Fiscal Court in each county would be the elected body responsible for imposing all tax rates in the county. It would be the Fiscal Court that would raise or lower the rates of all the Special Purpose Government Entities (like libraries and fire districts for example) in each county. 
Now onto this week’s column!
The most controversial and difficult decisions that I made when I was in public office were those affecting someone’s private property. When it comes to the use of one’s property (or the property next door or down the street), citizens are very sensitive (and rightfully so). 
The tensions of just how far those property rights extend and how those rights might infringe on the rights of others is the crucial question. Each time those issues came before the elected body that I sat on, the tempers rose.
Some Examples: 
Why can’t a bar owner decide to allow or not allow the use of a legal product within his establishment? What gives the right to the state to restrict the use of his property?
Why can’t a building owner use his property in a fashion that is both legal and a service to the community? Why does the city or the county decide that one use is permitted and another is not? 
Under the common law, persons in possession of real property (land owners, lease holders etc.) are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their lands. If a neighbor interferes with your quiet enjoyment, either by creating smells, sounds, pollution or any other hazard that extends past the boundaries of the property, the affected party may make a claim of nuisance.
What protects the public from an unwanted use of private property next door?
Should the public, in the form of an appointed board of directors, be able to take away the rights of the farmer when there was a public need for sanitation services caused by the urban area of the county? Is the public health need greater than the private property owners' right to quiet enjoyment of his land?
When land was taken for expansion of a highway, thereby eliminating a business of over 50 years, should some leeway in zoning be given to help that family reestablish their business?
If children are the property of their parents, as some national politicians suggest, shouldn’t the parent have the right to deny vaccinations? Why should the public have any say, for that matter, if the parent smokes in the car with the children? What right does the government have in the rearing of our children?
The public has felt there are good reasons to restrict land and property use. We impose various rules and codes and regulation and laws to control property use. We use:
  • zoning regulations
  • subdivision covenants
  • easements, which relate to the use of one person's land by another
  • building, housing, public health and safety codes and regulations
  • and laws protecting individuals from discrimination. .
As you can see, land and property use are the most difficult decisions that local government faces.
Last Sunday night, I woke up, as I usually do, in the middle of the night. I looked at the thermostat which displays the outside temperature. It was 15 degrees outside. I immediately thought about the 75 folks staying at 634 Scott Boulevard in Covington. Were they, like me, just now awake? Did they feel like having a late night snack before going back to bed? Did they miss their riverfront tent, tarp or cardboard box?
Since 2008, the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (ESNKY) has been providing winter shelter to homeless in our community. Their time at the facility on Scott is quickly coming to an end. They need a new location
Where should they go? There are very few areas of NKY zoned for a shelter. Why is there no space for them? What is the public’s protective interest in this issue? What threat does the ESNKY pose to the public? Since 2008 the ESNKY has been going about their business. They present no health or building or public health code issues. They create no environmental issues. 
ESNKY has demonstrated themselves to be a quality not-for-profit serving the basic human need of shelter during winter months.
I think we all agree there is a need for shelter, and we, as a community of caring people, should provide space. 
But, not in my back yard!
What is your NIMBY ranking? Take this week’s survey: CLICK HERE
Want to tell the leadership of NKY what you think? How about joining the ESNKY Board of Directors at their upcoming event:
For more of Ken Rechtin's Another Voice, click here.
The views and opinions expressed here in “Another Voice” do not reflect the views or opinions of The River City News, its owners, writers, or editors. These are solely the ideas of Ken Rechtin. If you wish to make comment to Another Voice, Ken can be reached via email at [email protected] or you may leave a comment here. All rights to use of Another Voice in any fashion are retained by Ken Rechtin. Please contact him for any use of his columns.