When I am asked to summarize the CAOs for the uninitiated, I find it difficult to find the words to neatly convey their content and flaws. Generally speaking, though, I have come to think of them as the Crimes Against Nature Ordinances (CANOs).
Imagine a crime has been committed. The crime is "general worldwide environmental degradation" and you are a suspect. You are a suspect because you are alive, and more specifically, you have "nature" on your property. You come into contact with "nature" during the course of your activities at home, too.
The vague wording of the new ordinances ensures that nearly everything is construable as protectable nature (e.g., habitat, water courses, aquifer recharge area, wetland, buffer, etc.). Nearly any activity could be construed as environmental harm, too. That's a dangerous formula. You might think you have nothing to worry about because you consider yourself to be "green" and you live harmoniously with nature. But these new ordinances do not care about that. In fact, the more harmonious and the more integrated your life may be with nature, the greater the potential risk that you might be elevated from suspect to alleged environmental criminal.
The person who will decide whether to prosecute you for crimes against nature is René Beliveau, the Director of Planning. It will be his decision alone. He has unlimited discretion. If he decides to prosecute you, you can either admit your guilt (thou shalt not suffer a witch to live) or pay $2,300 to fight the charge. If you fight it, you will need an army of expensive consultants to prove your innocence, and the people who will sit in judgment of your expensive new evidence will be the very people who accused you of the crime in the first place: namely, Beliveau accompanied and assisted by various and sundry "experts" from the State Department of Ecology.
If "they" disagree with your experts, and you still wish to fight, then you have to proceed with Hearing Examiner and court challenges.
There are still people in this County who think I am exaggerating. There are many who think they (and/or their loved ones) will never be personally subject to the enforcement aspects of this law. You are wrong ... flat dead wrong. And none of it, absolutely none of it, will have anything to do with environmental protection.
Every locavore should be against these ordinances. Every permaculturist. Every gardener. Every homeowner. Every Democrat, every Republican, and every Independent. There is no protected class. We are all environmental suspects under this law.
It didn't have to be this way, but that is what this Council has done to us ... to our community. None of us should forget it.
Please also read the Island Guardian editorial.
|This is how a farmer in Germany got around the permit rules. Our situation may not be so humorous.|