Why property rights matter
I am not a politician or public figure. I am one of many Americans whose property is under assault by government, (NJ state) that thinks it can redistribute private property among private parties, absolutely forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. I feel compelled to share this story. Only by bringing this out into the open, can we hope to change course.
Why property rights matter
As a property owner, who may soon find her property landlocked except via an easement crossing the adjoining owner’s property, I’ve been in a unique position to observe the disturbing alliance between government and big business that rides roughshod over constitutionally protected property rights of individuals and small business. I undertook this work to expose how property rights are being trampled under the guise of “public benefit.” I’d like to put forth foundational information for future articles, which NJDOT and Lowes do not want to acknowledge.
NJDOT says the driveway at 43 Hampton House Road is unsafe. Their premise that “Safety is the top priority of NJDOT,” conflicts with Deputy Attorney General Patterson’s account that NJDOT’s “decision (to revoke Dr. Zika’s direct access to Route 206) was a necessary consequence of DOT’s issuance of an access driveway permit for a new Lowes . . . on Route 206 in Hampton.” Here is a clear example of corporate empire building at a local level. As attorney Jennifer Kruckeberg writes: “Corporations . . . are proposing the following assignment: ‘Find me your most prominent location, get rid of what is on it, help me pay for it, and maybe you will be lucky enough to have me move to your city.’” To clear out areas for big business, local governments force mom and pop businesses to leave. By closing up driveways, they eliminate competition and change the business climate for big corporations. It is about multimillion dollar companies establishing footholds in communities across the nation where they squeeze out, come hell or high water, any opposition.
There are vital constitutional issues that exist regarding this closure. Among the most important are constitutional rights requiring equal protection under law. The Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment prohibits denying any person equal application of law. NJDOT is singling Zika out for worse treatment, i.e., revocation of her highway access, than her neighbor at 45 Hampton House Road, whose driveway is equal Zika’s driveway, is left untouched. NJDOT admits a lack of consistency in applying its Access Code, but “feels we can close this (Dr. Zika’s driveway) based on the Code, understanding the neighbor has the same situation.” Only law, impartially and uniformly enforced, prevails in a free society, not arbitrary orders by government bureaucrats. In this era, when we are looking for equal treatment under law, such exercise of enforcement discretion is legal abuse and threatens the Rule of Law.
NJDOT errs when it thinks it can take a grandfathered driveway. Zika’s property had access to Route 206 before 1951. The Rule of Law being ignored here is the Grandfather Clause of NJ Highway Access Act (1989), which provides a new entrance to a state road go through a permitting process, while those already in the system are exempt. NJDOT’s attempt to seize a grandfathered driveway that existed before the statute and code were adopted violates ‘ex post facto’ principle of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits laws adopted after something is established making it illegal although it was legal when done. Therefore, if NJDOT enacts new regulations, they do not apply to this driveway because it predated the effective date of the Act (1989) and Code (1992).
Selective application of the law
Sensibilities for justice are thrown out the window. The fact is NJDOT did not follow Law. When I found out about it, NJDOT obscured facts and truth. I sought protection of my property rights from the courts, who ordered the matter back to NJDOT for hearing. How can it be suggested a rehearing will give Dr. Zika the opportunity to present objections after Lowes has been fully built and operational for over 10 years? It is reminiscent of what many states did to Native American tribes. They swindled their way in, and then forced the original people off lands, which were their homes and burial grounds. Many years later, when Native Americans discovered they were defrauded, it was too late – things were done.
Our Founders understood a cornerstone of liberty meant one could keep what one earned through one’s own labor – property. American colonists felt it unjust to have the fruits of their work confiscated by a powerful dictatorial British government. The Founders devised a government to protect people from those who would forcibly deprive us of our property. Those protections are being swept away by government that has itself become the instrument of injustice. John Adams knew the results if a nation starts to nullify property rights:
The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God . . . anarchy and tyranny commence. Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.