Rights Should Outweigh Expediency

There was an interesting conversation at the end of Culver’s April Plan Commission meeting. Some commission members were expressing their frustration at the time and expensive necessary to move buildings that have been deemed unsafe through the court proceedings. They wanted to explore ways to expedite this process.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, housesagainst unreasonable searches and seizures
No Person shall bedeprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law…

The discussion revolved around the County-wide Unsafe Building Committee which was formed last year. The committee was formed with the intent of streamlining the process. The committee requested a judge cede jurisdiction to them and expedite the process of condemning property.

Note: This is what I heard at this Plan Commission meeting and others. I have no direct knowledge of how these cases have proceeded.

In most of these cases, the judge hearing the case had granted the property owner time to obtain an attorney, time to present their case and time to make improvements recommended by the committee. At times the judge had sided with the property owner on allowing them to make improvements in lieu of condemnation and reduced the extent of the improvements required.

Listening to this from the outside, I felt the goal of getting the property cleaned up or condemned is worth pursuing, but not at the expense of proper representation and property rights. Not to disparage the current committee, but I don’t think bureaucracy is a suitable substitute for an elected judge. The current committee may be knowledgeable in property rights, but there’s no guarantee that this would always be the case. It’s also unclear what the route to appeal is if the judge cedes authority to the committee. Since the complaints aired by the Plan Commission had to do with the length of process, I am concerned that the rights to due process could be hindered.

It will be interesting to see how this moves forward. I am concerned that this is a case of needing to be careful what you wish for… I don’t know that we want these powers to be unchecked. Thus my choice of title for this post, “Rights should outweigh Expediency…”

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