Libertarians Encourage Longer Review Time for Countywide Zoning Ordinance

Following a unanimous vote of its membership, the Libertarian Party of LaPorte County (LPLP) announced
opposition to the proposed Countywide Zoning ordinance now being considered by city and county officials.
Characterizing the ordinance as anti-business, LPLP leadership is proposing the ordinance review process be slowed down to allow the public more time to understand the land use changes and the impact on business attraction and expansion.

In a prepared statement, LaPorte County resident and state party Vice Chairman Dan Drexler noted, “There seems to be a rush by our plan commission members and elected officials to pass this without understanding the contents of the ordinance. It reminds me of the mammoth federal healthcare legislation, ‘We have to pass it to find out what’s in it.’ Changes continue to be made to this ordinance, even as recently as this week’s La Porte City Plan Commission meeting. This is a moving target that needs a final version drafted and available for public review before it is voted on.”

Drexler continued, “Once we have a final copy, let’s see how it impacts land use and businesses. The argument that we need this for economic development purposes simply doesn’t hold up to closer scrutiny. More prohibitive industrial land use regulations and less friendly building code will only go to dissuade businesses from looking here and challenge our rural school districts to balance budgets without raising current property taxes.”

Libertarian small business owner Greg Kelver said, “As a small business owner, there are a number of provisions buried in the ordinance that could have detrimental effects on small rural and home-based businesses. LaPorte County could offer a lot to growing small businesses and companies who are ruralsourcing jobs instead of outsourcing them overseas. But the unintended consequences of this poorly written ordinance could kill those potential jobs and economic growth in LaPorte County before they even get started. Hopefully, our elected commissioners will send this back to planning commission for the additional corrective work it sorely needs.”

The one-size fits all approach to this ordinance could face strong legal challenge as well. County Vice Chairman and attorney Andy Wolf observes, “The needs of small rural communities like Union Mills or Rolling Prairie are very different than the needs of Michigan City or La Porte. It simply doesn’t make sense to have a single countywide ordinance that treats these communities identically. Lacrosse is not Michigan City and La Porte is not Hanna.”

“Parts of this ordinance are overly restrictive and clearly unconstitutional,” Wolf continued. “When you deny a
landowner the economically beneficial or productive use of his land, you violate his property rights. This ordinance excessively limits how a person can use his land, in some cases changing zoning designations that have existed for decades.”

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