VLC Speaker: Martin Harris – Citizens for Property Rights

Martin HarrisMartin Harris of Citizens for Property Rights was the second speaker of the 2006 Vermont Libertarian convention.

Citizens for Property Rights is a Vermont grass roots organization dedicated, since 1989, to restoring our heritage of liberty rooted in the principle of private property ownership. Their objective is to reclaim the broad definition of property rights held by such thinkers as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. In the original American understanding, the right to property meant a lot more than just physical real-estate. The right to private property is synonymous with the right to self ownership and includes such things as the money we earn. Members are located in all counties of the state and include people from all walks of life. CPR is not tied to any political party.

Harris spoke on the principles of Property Rights. A couple of his main points were…

1. The 5th Ammendment (…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.) should protect the us from having our property taken for economic gain such as what happened in the Kelo case. Emminent domain should be strictly used for public uses such as roads and fair market value should be paid for any land taken.

2. Zoning as a right – if a project is in full compliance with all published zoning regulations and is zoned for specific uses, the property owner should be able to proceed with approved uses. An example of this right being infringed… consider this one from Randolph, VT: there a local zoning board denied a 9-unit multi-family housing project in full compliance with all published zoning regulations after one of the neighbors, an Assistant Attorney-General with the State of Vermont, advised the planners that regulatory compliance didin’t matter: if the neighbors are opposed, then the project “doesn’t fit” and must be rejected for a permit. It was.One of the “reasons” given was that the new dumpster might smell.

A major theme of the speech was how we have a group of people in government that because they are educated and have a higher status than the average person they know better than us and we should follow their lead and obey. He refered to them as the “gentry left”. They feel that its their duty to “take care” of us and instruct us on how to live and use our property whether we like it or not and that in time we will grow to appreciate it. It’s kind of a parent/ child relationship. Government is the parent and we are the children.

More information:
Citizens for Property Rights – http://www.cprvt.org

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