Norman, Oklahoma: Where The Wild Things Are
June 09, 2011 (edited for clarification purposes June 12, 2011)
A few weeks ago I got an email detailing the controversy over Norman’s Storm Water Master Plan and a couple of proposed ordinances that had some people up in arms.
The issues that were brought to my attention centered on the proposed Water Quality Protection Zones and the approval of a Storm Water Master Plan for the City of Norman.
ORDINANCE NO. O-1011-52: AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NORMAN, OKLAHOMA, AMENDING CHAPTER 19 OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF NORMAN TO PROVIDE FOR STANDARDS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR A DESIGNATED WATER QUALITY PROTECTION ZONE INCLUSIVE OF THE LAKE THUNDERBIRD WATERSHED;
Legislation Details (With Text)
ORDINANCE NO. O-1011-53: AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NORMAN, OKLAHOMA, AMENDING CHAPTER 22 OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF NORMAN TO ADDSECTION 429.7 CREATING A ZONING OVERLAY DISTRICT FOR THE WATER QUALITY PROTECTION ZONE AND AMENDING SECTION 441(11) PROVIDING FOR SUBMITTALS FOR A VARIANCE FROM THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE WATER QUALITY PROTECTION ZONING OVERLAY DISTRICT; AND PROVIDING FOR THE SEVERABILITY THEREOF.
Legislation Details (With Text)
The Storm Water Master Plan (SWMP) is supposed to;
Satisfy regulatory requirements including the mandated OPDES MS4 storm water quality permitting program and identify problems and solutions associated with stream flooding, including;
- stream erosion,
- local drainage problems
- water quality
Enhance recreational opportunities and protect the environment.
The Storm Water Master plan is supposed to accomplish these goals with input from all stakeholders, the plan is to receive public input and is to also provide public education on important issues, and help maintain public support into the future.(Source “SWMP Summary Statement Executive Summary” page ES-8)
Dr. Baxter Vieux, a local professor and water quality expert, says that Lake Thunderbird which supplies Norman and surrounding areas with drinking water, has unacceptable levels of chlorophyll-a due to algae growth which is bad for water quality and causes difficulty for wildlife. (The Norman Transcript May 30, 2011 Adopting SWMP first step)
The problem is that the new zoning that is required to implement the Water Quality Protection Zones (WQPZ ) and the Storm Water Master Plan (SWMP) will have an impact on property rights.
From the City of Norman’s FAQ on the ordinances;
Zoning Overlay District (O-1011-53): The City’s zoning ordinance regulates the use of property. Your existing zoning of your property does not change with these ordinances. The current use of your property does not change either; however, new construction and new developments in areas that aren’t already platted or subdivided would be required to follow it. The proposed overlay district would restrict new uses of property within the WQPZ.
To clarify-new development within at least 100 feet of every stream or drainage ditch within the Lake Thunderbird watershed would be restricted from any new development in varying degrees. The current zoning of the properties would not change but if the owner wished to develop the land in a way that may have been permitted when he or she purchased and does not get permission prior to the ordinance change then they are out of luck.
The two ordinances are scheduled to be considered by the City Council on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 6:30pm in the Council Chambers in the City
Municipal Building at 201 W. Gray Street. Read the FAQ
In examining the issue, It is apparent that these ordinances will be followed by similar and increasingly restrictive property regulations which is why it is important to view these changes in their proper historical and philosophical context.
I don’t own real estate in Norman but I do cherish my rights
A right is simply that which we are all entitled to. All rights are, in essence, are our property.
This what James Madison meant when he said,
‘‘as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.’’
When I started looking into this issue, all I wanted to know was if these measures, which demand control over private property, are legally just and necessary?
It’s about water quality, water quality, water quality. We can’t emphasize that enough.”–Shawn O’Leary, Norman Public Works Director
Whenever the government uses its police power to take away property rights people are usually suspicious of the motive and want ample evidence that the taking is just. I think this is a very healthy reaction. This was my motive for looking into the matter.
We have a high percentage of private property ownership in this state. I believe it is one of Oklahoma’s greatest strengths but some see private property ownership as a barrier to “sustainable development”
If the cause of action is just and necessary then the government has stayed within its purview of protecting the rights of all and has not infringed upon the rights of anyone. If the cause cannot be proved to be necessary, then the government has perverted the law, infringing where it should be only be protecting. The power of government is simply and extension of our power and should be used to protect our rights. The police power of government should never be abused by taking from some for the benefit of a few.
Where do property rights come from?
I think certain rights are unalienable, that they were granted to us all by our Creator and cannot be taken from us. Life, Liberty and Property are among these natural rights. These rights did not come from the government and the government cannot morally revoke them. This happens to the premise that this nation’s laws are based upon so for all of you who also believe this to be true, you are on firm ground.
Furthermore, I believe that,
We all have a duty to ensure, for the benefit of generations to come, that our government respects the unalienable rights granted us by our Creator and paid for in blood by those that came before us.
Not everyone believes this way.
On May 22, 2011 George Ingels gave this opinion in the The Norman Transcript;
Community’s needs outweigh the rights of property owners
Mr. Ingels writes,
“As a long-term elected official of the now-annexed town of Hall Park, I was confronted many times by issues that pitted the needs of the community against the rights of the individual homeowner, and I had to develop a viewpoint that would be helpful to me in my decisions” (Emphasis mine)
That “community” is made up of individuals. All of those individuals have the same exact rights. Calling a collection of individuals a “community” does not change anything at all unless he is suggesting that Hall Park operated under mob rule.
We do not give up our rights because we live in a community.
Mr. Ingels concludes;
“It is now down to the decision of whether the requirements of the community should outweigh the rights of certain property owners and developers to use their property as they wish.”
This is a highly Utilitarian view. The Utilitarian perspective holds that the right thing to do is that which would cause “the greatest good for the greatest number” It also means your rights are conditional, subject to the whims of society.
I disagree with his premise entirely but think that it will be worthwhile to find out just who comprises this “community” that he speaks of and to find out exactly what it is they require and why.
Jane Ingels, George Ingels’ wife also weighed in on the issue in an opinion piece co-written with Lytha Wesner that was published in the Norman Transcript on May 24, 2011. The two women, both members of the Norman Storm Water Task Force, seemed indignant by any suggestion that they might be moving too fast on these ordinances.
Ordinances weren’t a rushed-up job
Tonight, the Norman City Council will consider two ordinances that would take the first steps to seriously address the increasing problems of storm water runoff that directly affect businesses, homeowners and taxpayers, the problems of flooding and water quality
. . .The two ordinances that are now before the council are the result of many months of study, research and discussion involving countless meetings and hours by the task force in order to find solutions that are flexible, effective, legal and — above all — fair. This was not a rushed-up job, as opponents now claim.
Every effort was made to address legitimate concerns and even non-legitimate “concerns”
These ladies claim that they have made every effort to address all concerns even the “non-legitimate” ones. Legitimate in this context I take to mean authentic or genuine. It seems like to me any concern expressed by any member of the community should be considered legitimate unless the person expressing it was, perhaps, insane. If this is the case, the two ladies are to be commended on their patience.
According to another article published in the Norman Transcript on the very same day as Ingels’ and Wesner’s editorial was published, it does appear that the City Council neglected to notify the actual property owners potentially affected by the ordinances as required by law before attempting to implement the zoning changes. As I understand it, this is why the vote on the two ordinances had to be postponed.
Just like The Ingels’, Lytha Wesner and her husband Charles make a dynamic duo. Charles Wesner is the Chair of the Oklahoma Sierra Club.
Here are some of the other task forces, boards, commissions etc. that Lyntha Wesner and Jane Ingels are or have been a member of.
- Norman Storm Water Task Force
- Founding member and Chair of the Norman Area Land Conservancy, Inc.
- Chair of the Greenbelt Commission
- Member of the Greenbelt Task Force
- co-author of Norman’s Park Land Dedication ordinance
- Citizens Committee on Norman 2020 Plan
- Citizens Committee on Norman 2025 Plan
- Member of the Greenbelt Task Force
- Member of the local and state chapters of the Sierra Club
- Norman Storm Water Task Force
- Greenbelt Commission Chair
- Citizens Task Force for the Storm Water Master Plan.
- Former member of the Norman School Board
Almost as soon as began the research on the SWMP I realized that it was inseparable from Norman’s longstanding efforts to create a Greenbelt system. This is entirely by design.
In 2005, Wesner and Ingels, along with seven other members of the City of Norman’s Greenbelt Commission, according to this article “Greenbelt Commission recommends stormwater utility, trails plan” in the Norman Transcript, concluded that,
“establishing the Greenbelt System was essential to supporting Norman’s wild and green spaces.”
A “New Approach” is Needed
The Greenbelt Commissions report to the City Council recommended the creation of a Storm Water Utility and the development of a regional plan stating that,
“a new approach to managing storm water runoff and other natural water drainage systems would have the side benefit of augmenting the greenbelt system.”
Read all of the Greenbelt Commissions recommendations in the 2005 Greenbelt One Year Report.
Greenbelt Commission Year One Report
It would also sidestep the law. Getting property owners to give up their development rights through voluntary devices like buying “conservation easements” which locks up land forever from and future development, was not working fast enough for them. The proposed ordinances are simply conservation easements that are taken rather than purchased.
The Norman Area Land Conservancy NALC
The Greenbelt Commission acknowledged that the creation of the Greenbelt System for Norman would have to be done in a piecemeal fashion and that it would take a concerted effort on behalf of the City Council to get the job done and recommended the City partner with the Norman Area Land Conservancy (NALC) to help the city acquire land for the Greenbelt System.
The Norman Area Land Conservancy, established in 2000, is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation organized to assist in implementing long-term environmental objectives.
Founding Members of the Norman Area Land Conservancy
Robert C. Goins, Vice-chair
John Raeside, Treasurer
Jacci L. Rodgers
Lee Rodgers, Secretary
Lyntha Wesner, Chair
Patrick Copeland, Executive Director
The Norman Area Land Conservancy states that it is guided by the Norman Greenbelt Plan. NALC was also initiated by the same fellow who is given much credit for the Greenbelt Plan, Lee Rodgers.
NALC became a member of the Land Trust Alliance in the same year it was founded, 2000 and has formally agreed to abide by the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices
“. . .the Land Trust Alliance, serves as an umbrella group for local land trusts.” –A Brief History of Conservation Planning by Reed Noss, Wildlands Project founder via LandScope.org
Patrick Copeland, who is listed as an Advisor to the 1997 Norman Greenbelt Report is listed as the contact for the Norman Area Land Conservancy on the Land Trust Alliance’s website. He’s a founding member the Executive Director of the Norman Area Land Conservancy.
Patrick Copeland has been the development services manager for Norman since 1994, is on the Norman Storm Water Master Plan Project Team and is credited for drawing up the Norman Greenbelt maps for the 2002 “Green Dreams” Report and Recommendations on Forming a Greenbelt System.
As carefully noted in the “Green Dreams” report;
“The Task Force was very cautious and chose not to include any maps in their report, as they did not want to suggest in any way that any specific properties were “targeted by their group”. Therefore, while the attached maps are not part of the Greenbelt Task Force report, I believe they will help clarify some of the material presented in the report.”
Patrick Copeland is also a member of ACOG’s (Association of Central Oklahoma Governments) INTERMODAL TRANSPORTATION TECHNICAL COMMITTEE
The Real Problem
Shifting mind sets
“The City of Norman, with the creation of the Greenbelt Commission and development of the Storm Water Master Plan have taken the initial steps toward shifting mind sets.”
This is from a report commissioned by the Norman area Sierra Club (which goes by the name “The Red Earth Group” in Norman) critiquing Inhofe Creek. The writer of the report, Russell C. Dutnell, is also a former member of the Norman Storm Water Task Force.
He admits that the Norman engineers have done a good job in creating a storm water drainage system that prevents flooding by quickly and efficiently conveying elsewhere which is exactly what they were assigned to do. The Sierra Club, however, opens the report by referring Inhofe Creek as a “gaping wound”
The real problem is, according to Mr.Dutnell, that these creeks are (or should be) so much more than drainage systems.
“They are harbingers of life, of ecosystems that have evolved with the pulsating rhythm of low flows and high flows, of low energy and high.”
In order to tease out the answer to my question, “Are these measures which demand control over private property legally just and necessary?, I had to study the history and development of Norman’s Greenbelt Plan.
Norman Greenbelt History
Greenbelts are generally focused on growth management and open space preservation
According to our city planning documents, in Norman, greenbelts are specifically used as a way to protect natural areas and open space with a system of land parcels. The greenbelt is to be created by linking existing parks and green space areas, both publicly and privately owned by a system of trails.
-In the mid 1990’s Norman first recognized the greenbelt plan by including it as one of their five goals in the Norman 2020, the city’s first comprehensive planning document issued in 1996.
The reasons stated for creating a Greenbelt System were to protect environmentally sensitive lands and to create multipurpose greenbelt corridors that would connect existing parks and other open space areas.
-The City Council then appointed the Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee to study the merits and feasibility of a greenbelt system as suggested in the Norman 2020 document.
CITIZENS GREENBELT STEERING COMMITTEE
- Marion Bauman
- Dick Reynolds
- Jim McCampbell
- Jim Sipes
- Gene McKown
- Lyntha Wesner
- Lee Rodgers, Chair and Report Editor
- Richard Massie, Director of Planning and Community Development
- Patrick Copeland, Advisor to the Committee
-In 1997 the Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee produced a document entitled “A Report on Greenbelts and Greenways for Norman, Oklahoma” for the City Council.
Policies identified with the goal of creating a Greenbelt System include:
- Use greenbelts to preserve environmentally sensitive lands. . .
- Use the greenbelt area to link together existing recreation areas.
- Create a multipurpose greenbelt corridor
-In 1998 an ordinance was passed creating the Greenbelt Task Force.
-In 1999 Lee Rodgers, the Greenbelt Steering Committee chair was asked to recommend a “Proposed Study and Scope of Work” for establishing a Greenbelt System.
-On February 22, 2000, the City Council created the Greenbelt Commission and appointed  members to draft a plan. Greenbelt History
-In 2000 the Greenbelt Task Force was appointed to draft a plan for the Greenbelt system and in 2002 issued a report entitled;
“GREEN DREAMS” Report and Recommendations on Forming a Greenbelt System for the City of Norman.
The “Green Dreams” report identified three important elements that for Norman’s greenbelt and green way development.
- The 100 year floodplains,
- Prime (and locally significant) farmlands,
- Parcels greater than 37 acres in size.
-On May 11, 2004 The Greenbelt Commission was created by ordinance.
“The Greenbelt Commission advises the City Council on policies pertaining to the promotion, acquisition, maintenance, and improvement of the open spaces, greenways, and trail way systems in the City of Norman” Greenbelt Commission Information Page
Major Recommendations of the Greenbelt Commission
-On November 10 2009 The City Council accepted the draft Greenway Master Plan in conjunction with the Storm Water Master Plan
-On Nov 24, 2009 The City Council adopted the Norman Parks and Recreation Master Plan entitled “A Legacy For The Next Generation”
Regarding the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, the Sierra Club/ Red Earth Group writes;
A regional park along the South Canadian River is a high priority that would protect the local ecology, flood plain, and provide for a pedestrian and bicycle trail. This goal is a high priority in the recently completed Parks & Recreation Master Plan (see http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/parks/parks-recreation-master-plan).
They say that the “Master Plan calls for “Acquisition of lands along the Little River corridor and the Canadian River will help with flood control and provide opportunities for nature preserves.”
Download the Parks & Recreation Master Plan
-On November 10, 2010 a subcommittee of the Greenbelt developed amendments to the existing Greenbelt Commission ordinance.
Adopted Greenbelt Commission Ordinance as of November 11, 2010
Sec. 4-2026. – Specific principles, purposes and goals of the Greenbelt System.
A Greenbelt System, as defined herein, serves the following principles, purposes and goals of the City of Norman.
(1) The ultimate goal is to create an interconnected system of trails that allow multiple connections across all of Norman.
(2) The Greenbelt System should preserve valuable green space, natural habitat and key areas with existing vegetation.
(5) Trails should promote smooth walkable corridors that are open and visible.
(6) The Greenbelt System should contribute to enhancing the physical appearance of the City, whether through new pedestrian features, landscaping added to trail corridors, or simply by revealing natural areas not previously visible to the general public.
(7) The Greenbelt System should encourage the creation of public and private partnerships that help build the entire system more quickly.
(8) Greenbelts should protect environmentally sensitive lands . . .especially floodprone areas and riparian corridors, and provide connectivity between the elements of the Greenbelt System.
(b) The use of lot clustering should be encouraged as a means to develop the Greenbelt System.
(c) The Greenbelt System should be used to link together existing recreation areas.
(d) Multipurpose greenways should be created that:
(1) Create a unique greenway characterfor Norman;
(2) Protect the environmentally sensitive areas of the City and serve as a wildlife habitat;
(All Emphasis mine)
Greenbelt Enhancement Statement (GES)
A GES according ARTICLE XXI GREENBELT COMMISSION “a statement on a form provided to the applicant by the City Planning and Community Development Department that is to be included with all applications for a Land Use Plan amendment, a Norman Rural Certificate of Survey or preliminary platting of land and submitted for consideration by the Commission that articulates how the principles, purposes, and goals of The Greenbelt System are met by the proposed development.”
In brief, Article XXI 4-2027 deals with Greenbelt Enhancement Statements. It requires “All applications for a Pre-Development meeting regarding a proposed Land Use Plan amendment, a Norman Rural Certificate of Survey or preliminary platting of land in the City shall include a Greenbelt Enhancement Statement.”
Norman Greenbelt Enhancement Statement
Persons wishing to develop property in Norman are required to explain how they propose to incorporate open space into the development, whether or not it will include any sort of trail and how this trail will connect a public open space (such as a park or trail) with ½ of a mile of the property they wish to develop.
If the property is near a schools, recreational areas, commercial sites, or residential neighborhood, the Greenbelt Commission prefers that your project provide “connectivity points” to promote non motorized transportation such as walking or bicycling. They also want you to list any features of the property that might be useful to Norman’s greenbelt system.
The Greenbelt Commission will then consider how your property may contribute to the greater good and make their recommendations which will be forwarded to the Planning Commission and City Council to be factored into their decision about approval or non-approval of your request.
(Source Greenbelt Commission update)
Going back to the initial Greenbelt report done by the appointed Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee in 1997, what is obvious is that the creation of interconnected green corridors that preserve nature in a “pristine state” for the sake of wilderness preservation and wildlife habitat is central to purpose served by a greenbelt system.
“There is a rich diversity of wild life throughout the riparian corridors of the Canadian and Little Rivers and their tributaries”, writes Lee Rodgers, the chairman of the greenbelt steering committee and author of the 1997 report.
Joseph Lee Rodgers, Jr. has been extremely involved in city planning and the creation of Norman’s Greenbelts. He was credited by the Norman Greenbelt Commission for working “for a decade to gather information and raise awareness for this project”
In 1953, Lee Rodgers earned the first masters degree from the new regional and city planning program at the university [OU], where he became director of the Institute of Community Development. In 1961, he was named chair of the planning program which he directed for 24 years until his retirement in 1985
Lee Rodgers was named a David Ross Boyd professor of planning, and in 2001 he became a Fellow of the American Planning Association, the national organization’s highest honor.
. . .he initiated the organization of the Norman Area land Conservancy and he has been instrumental in the establishment of the ongoing Norman greenbelt and greenway programs.
Source Local couple celebrates 60th anniversary
I was reading over some of Rodgers’ papers which focus on human behavior, fertility, class intelligence and the like which frankly struck me as rather Malthusian but I shrugged it off.
[Thomas]Malthus was a political economist who was concerned about, what he saw as, the decline of living conditions in nineteenth century England. He blamed this decline on three elements: The overproduction of young; the inability of resources to keep up with the rising human population; and the irresponsibility of the lower classes. To combat this, Malthus suggested the family size of the lower class ought to be regulated such that poor families do not produce more children than they can support. http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/malthus.html
Then I stumbled upon this information.
From 1994-1998, he was the president of The Society for the Study of Social Biology , the successor of the American Eugenics Society . Joseph Lee Rodgers was also on the board of the Society for the Study of Social Biology from 2000-2006 and again in 2009.
I feel an unbearable pressure to unleash a cliché at this point so let me get it over with. I don’t make the news, I’m just reporting it.
If you are unfamiliar with what eugenics is all about, this site for The American Bioethics Advisory Commission provides an excellent overview.
American Eugenics Society was founded in 1922 and the name was changed to The Society for the Study of Social Biology in 1973 According to The American Life League, a Catholic Pro-Life organization, the name change did “not correspond to any alteration in the goals of the Society.”
In 2009 the name of the Society was changed once again to The Society of Biodemography and Social Biology. The site lists a “Joe Rodgers” as a member of the current Board of Directors but I can’t be certain if this is the same person as Joseph Lee Rogers. It might make for a lively discussion though. Next time you run into him at a dinner party or something, maybe you could ask.
If you are interested, Between Quality and Quantity: The Population Council and the Politics of “Science-making” in Eugenics and Demography, 1952-1965, provides an insightful study of the transition that led to the eventual name change of the American Eugenics Society.
According to Lee Rogers and the Citizens Greenbelt Steering Committee, thirty plus “open space” plans were reviewed by the Greenbelt Steering Committee and the report cites the “English Garden City” movement and the “New Town Movement” as sources of inspiration.
The English Garden City movement was spawned by the book “Garden Cities of To-Morrow” by Ebenezer Howard. You can read this book online.
Garden Cities of To-morrow By Ebenezer Howard
The Garden City principles of planning espoused by Ebenezer Howard also enamored Soviet urban planners. (See The Ideal Soviet Suburb: Social Change Through Urban Design by WM. Stephen Scott)
“The Soviets were particularly interested in Howard’s idea that the Garden City was to be a small, communal place, where the municipality would collectively own property.”
WM. Stephen Scott reminds us in The Ideal Soviet Suburb: Social Change Through Urban Design , that while we may think of “communism as a political and economic system, it was also a culture. . .Architecture and city planning were used as tools to further the communist social agenda of liberalizing the household, collectively sharing goods and cultivating individuals through cultural institutions. . .”
Scott closes his review of planning methods favored by the Soviets by contrasting Soviet ideals with Western ones.
The Western single-family home is a self-contained unit — a place to put purchased goods, to cook, to entertain guests, to raise children. Soviet plans deliberately attempted to prevent this bourgeois lifestyle by reducing the amount of personal space and offloading previously private functions into the public realm.
Collectivization required new collective entities: dining halls, laundromats, boarding schools, and open space were included in Soviet plans to a greater extent than in the West. Collectivization also implied clustered, high-density residential quarters, while in the West the standalone home was the ideal. Naturally, Soviets planned fewer churches, shopping districts, and private lawns, reflecting the fundamental difference between the ideal Soviet communal lifestyle and Western customs.
You have to ask yourself if the American values are being purposely crowded out by the comprehensive planning schemes being promoted and placed by eco and social activists all across this land.
The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God; and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.
—John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. July 16, 1814
The 1997 Norman Greenbelt Report explains that,
“The long term success of a Norman Greenbelt and Greenway Plan is entirely dependent on the continuing and enthusiastic support of many coalitions of citizen interest groups. These groups need to be identified and involved in the planning and implementation process. They will have much to contribute to any community wide open space system and environmental protection plan that may evolve.”
Citizen Interest Groups are commonly NGO’s or Non Governmental Organizations.
From The American Policy Center;
The phrase “non-governmental organization” came into use with the establishment of the United Nations Organization in 1945 with provisions in Article 71 of Chapter 10 of the United Nations Charter. The term describes a consultative role for organizations that are neither government nor member states of the UN.
Read more about NGO’s and how they operate
The organizations have no legal definition but usually exist to promote political and social causes and as their name implies, they are not an official part of our government structure. They are, however, often funded by government agencies and are often very involved in policy making. NGO’s have their own agenda and as most activists groups tend to be, they are highly motivated to see their pet issue propped up by law or policy. So, what citizen groups do you expect would be highly motivated to participate in city planning policy?
One would hope that the average citizen would want to be involved in policy making that will affect their property and environment. This is usually not the case because the average citizen is not an activist.
They read the news, talk to their neighbors and cast their votes accordingly. From that point, most expect their elected officials to represent their interests and follow the established law of our nation and state. What most people don’t realize is that, especially on the local level, our government is being transitioned to a participatory form of democracy. This is where the art of consensus is crucial. The citizens invited to participate are micro-managed and intellectually corralled into a consensus (which means there is no vote) If the voters understood this, they would be shocked because in the United States the form of government that is guaranteed us is a constitutional republican form of government, not a democracy.
As you might expect, it is the motivated individuals that stand to gain that have made it their business to understand the intricacies of municipal government. These are the people who are helping form city policy by participating in the task forces, boards and committees.This is why you see the same names again and again on the various reports listed as members of this of that council or committee.
By and large these people have an interest in either conservation or and land development. You might also notice that some of these people are involved in organizations that represent both. Most of us don’t fall into either category, yet our city policy is being shaped by these highly motivated individuals and we are told that the policies are what the “community” has decided and are expected to quietly abide.
I am unconvinced that other methods to improve water quality have been fairly considered. The idea of using buffer zones that restrict property rights, I believe were chosen to serve a host of other purposes unrelated to the ones were are being told and I will be posting further information that will make this abundantly clear.
Just to give you an idea, have you ever heard of LandScope?
Well they have heard of you and some of you are living on land that is targeted as a “Conservation Priority”
The truth is that eco activists have been working for many years to get Norman property out of the hands of private ownership so that they can manage it according to their own agenda.
Casting the issue as a community health and safety issue, they hope, will give them a legal leg to stand on. This is why the water quality/storm water issue has been married to the greenbelt plan and the Greenbelt Plan is married to even bigger plans as I will show.
When I started looking into this issue, all I wanted to know was if these measures, which demand control over private property, are legally just and necessary?
What I found out was a lot more.
Look for Part II soon
Norman Oklahoma: Where the Wild Things Are
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