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Commentary: Protect freedoms while guiding growth

By Steve Poteat
For the Salisbury Post
Recently I had the privilege of serving as a representative from Locke township on the steering committee for the creation of the Rowan County’s first land use plan. I was chosen by the county commissioners as one of 11 representatives, one from each township included in the study area making up the western part of Rowan County. Most likely, the eastern part of the county will follow.
My main reason for volunteering for this unpaid and thankless task was the preservation of freedom. When I began attending the steering committee meetings, I went in with the pre-determined notion that very few would understand the seriousness of the undertaking. Each committee member had his or her ideas on the direction that they thought the county should move toward, and they were very serious and well-intended.
I would like to note that it was never government control and regulations that made the United States the greatest civilization in the history of the world. It was freedom from government that allowed people to prosper, innovate and enjoy the fruits of their labor. U.S. citizens were prosperous to heights unimaginable by all past civilizations.
We have been reminded that not since 1753 has there been a land use plan. I am sure what is meant by this statement is that there has never been a “government” plan for private property. Actually, there have been many land use plans in our history. These plans were made by free citizens looking out for the best interest of their individual, private property. The government otherwise concerned itself with its designated, constitutional role in our society and allowed freedom to flourish.
Since the gaining of our independence from England and the creation of the U.S. Constitution, our government was limited for the purpose of protecting God-given rights, the right to own land and to control its use being one of them. Protecting our rights is the only legitimate reason our government exists. Our government exists not only to protect our rights from thieves, murderers, swindlers and tyrants, but it also protects the rights of the individual from the majority, their desires and their opinions. And that means any majority for any reason. As long as an individual did not infringe on the rights of others, his rights were secure. We do not have a “democracy” as a form of government. The founders created a republic with our written Constitution, and it guarantees each state a republican government. To better understand the protection of rights, one need only know why we have sheriff’s departments, police, courts and judges. These were designed to apprehend and bring to justice those that violate the rights of others. That is also why we have a register of deeds, which duly records property transactions and secures land ownership.
As written in the Declaration of Independence, when government becomes destructive to those ends and becomes the very thing that it was designed to protect us from, it negates itself and becomes illegitimate. Let us hope that never occurs in Rowan County.
The freedoms we enjoy as Americans have never been enjoyed by any other people on Earth. These freedoms were won for us by the blood and toil of countless brave patriots. This freedom is so precious that it cannot be simply compromised away. In this day and age, we have lost too much already.
There are many people out there who, if given the opportunity, would use the power of government, through coercion, to take away your rights to suit their personal visions of the world, and to impose on you their views on how things should be. This is why we always need to jealously guard our freedom.
Today we are bombarded with new problems. Some are real, some are perceived. One thing we must never forget is that our freedom must be preserved and that our problems will not all be solved by government legislation. Countries that are totally controlled by their governments have never been free or prosperous. “Central planning” simply does not work.
I am fairly satisfied with the finalized land use study for Rowan County. I enjoyed meeting the representatives from the other townships even though our opinions have differed. I enjoyed working with the Rowan County planning staff. I have much respect for them and their professionalism. I feel that they understand the rights of the individual and that the concept of the “land use plan” is simply a guideline for growth, and not a mandate to property owners.
The land use plan will now go to the Rowan County Planning Board to be accepted, rejected, or amended. They will then send it to the commissioners for their consideration. In all seriousness, the future will be determined by you the voters. If you elect county commissioners that have a true concept of individual rights and respect for them, your freedom will be secure. But if you elect commissioners who turn this land use plan into a regulatory, Draconian or even an Orwellian nightmare, like some other counties have done, it will truly be a sad day for us, our descendants and our posterity.
– – -Steve Poteat represented Locke township on the Land Use Steering Committee.

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