Land Use Regulations

by Stevens Country Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen

Some time ago, I had a visit from some folks who own land in Stevens County. The land had been an old home site many years ago, complete with an outhouse and hand-dug well.  After the purchase, the folks started with a roof for their travel trailer and then they added a concrete floor, and little by little, they worked to make a place where they could live out of the rain around their travel trailer. Over the years, they gradually built a little cabin where they could stay and enjoy the peace and quiet of the wilderness.


By the way, this property is way off the beaten track, several miles from the nearest paved road, in an area that is nearly uninhabited.    


For years these retired folks worked on their property without a problem until they ran afoul of a neighbor over an easement. The neighbor complained. Soon the folks were getting letters stating they were in violation of this or that rule and did not have proper permits. Finally, the matter landed in my office on a request for criminal charges.     


I went out to the property and visited the cabin and the saw the problem.  After considering the situation and the regulations, I decided to decline any criminal charges. I am in favor of responsible land use and reasonable regulation, but the side of Bodie Mountain is different from a Kirkland vacant lot and should be treated differently but the rules do not allow it.


This is a prime example of people being held hostage to laws and regulations that make no sense in the world they live in.


It is my firm belief that people have rights. We have seen our rights erode in the face of increasing regulations, but two of them that still exist are liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Building a little cabin in the woods to enjoy the peace of nature that God has given us is using our liberty to pursue happiness. It is nonsense to have a law that would brand a person a criminal for not complying with regulations that serve no meaningful purpose. We are a land of people.  Free People.  Our founding fathers did not intend us to be like slaves; serving laws that do not benefit our lives, preserve our liberties, or the help us in the pursuit of our happiness.


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