Last Tuesday’s Regular Bellevue Council meeting maintained an all too common theme in our borough – “Your council knows better than you!” Though I don’t often take advantage of the opportunity to speak up during the public contribution portion of the meeting, I decided to take five minutes to speak my mind on Tuesday. I’m sick and tired of being told by my council they know how to manage my property, ensure my safety, and raise my children better than I do.
My largest concern for the meeting on Tuesday was with the Bellevue Dog Woods Dog Park Rules which the borough voted to adopt as borough ordinance, effectively enabling the police to arrest, fine and/or imprison those in violation. Did you know you could be arrested and hauled off to prison for having a dog treat or dog toy on your person while standing in the vicinity of the dog park? Did you know you could have a permanent criminal record if you cannot prove you’re older than 12 while at the dog park? Did you know you could be standing before a judge in shackles if you take the calculated risk and supervise your less than 12 year old child as he/she plays with their beloved pet in our publicly funded park?
Also of concern to me is the fact that this borough council honestly believes it can manage and maintain your commercial property better than you! Bellevue Council adopted a new ordinance forcing the owners of commercial property to comply by their rules and their standards or risk thousands of dollars in fines and potential seizure of their property. While, I’ll admit, new ordinance does not explicitly state that council will attempt to seize your private property, it does passively expand the definition of “abandoned properties” to include not maintaining the “borough’s standards for 180 days.” In six months time, if you do not comply with Madame President Woshner’s demands she now has the authority to seize your property and sell it to the highest bidder. Does she know someone in the real estate market??
Admittedly I wasn’t aware of this final concern, but a well spoken gentleman at the end of Tuesday’s meeting pointed out the ignorance of the “Dumpster Screening Ordinance.” Property and space is limited in our little borough. Even finding the space to put a required dumpster on one’s property for large amounts of refuse can be a challenge. Adding this screening ordinance makes it effectively impossible to even keep or maintain a dumpster in some places. The gentleman who spoke owns a property on which a dumpster has been installed for his tenants in the only place possible, and it’s a tight fit. His concern is that this new requirement to screen his dumpster is effectively impossible. A proper dumpster screen requires a foot or two of space along each side of the dumpster, allowing access for the garbage truck to pick it up. The rear section of the screen requires at least a couple feet of clearance accounting for the arch created when a dumpster is lifted. Additionally, when it snows, the snow plow usually leaves a pile of snow in front of the dumpster. If the dumpster is screened, it would require someone to remove the pile of snow in order to gain access to the gate of the screen. Clearly no one on council considered these negative ramifications of their fancy new ordinance, otherwise they would have taken the necessary steps to ensure the ordinance complied with the unique circumstances of Bellevue.
Here’s what it all boils down to – the current regime in council honestly believes it knows how to create the “perfect little borough” better than you! They know how to protect your children better than you. They know how to manage your commercial property better than you. They know how to make your ugly old dumpster more attractive than you. There’s no consideration for personal responsibility or personal property rights, you’re just a minion who must do their bidding!
I did appreciate Councilwoman Lynn Heffley’s comment during the meeting when she said, “We don’t pass ordinances necessarily to enforce them, we pass ordinances to keep people safe.” Let that one sink in for a minute. This council honestly believes that if they push through a bunch of laws and have an ever expanding stack of papers on their desk they’re keeping us all safe!!! As absurd a comment as it was, at least Ms Heffley was being honest.
I’m not against passing necessary ordinances (key word – necessary). However, what I am sick and tired of is a local government that has absolutely no idea how to lead with a vision and establish a strategic plan to pursue that vision. Instead we have a government whose modus operandi is to keep people safe from themselves and the more laws they write and pass, the more successful they believe they are.
My challenge to those preparing to take office on January 1: get familiar with the process required to rescind laws, you’re going to need to know how it’s done!!
There are 110 days left until January 1, 2014. 110 days left until many members of the current regime are replaced with visionary leaders who believe Bellevue can be better than it is and will work tirelessly to lead with that vision. 110 days cannot come fast enough!