Circling Their Wagons

Citizens for Property Rights held another "property rights crusade," more commonly referred to as a "tractor rally," on Tuesday in downtown Leesburg.

They "circled their wagons," comprised of an assortment of farm vehicles, around 1 Harrison St. during the early morning rush hour, showering onlookers and vehicle occupants alike with signs reading, "Loudoun says no to snob zoning," a reference to the court decree in the 1959 Board of County Supervisors of Fairfax County v. Carper downzoning case [which opened up western Fairfax to intense residential development].

Surprised observers expressed skepticism as to the appropriateness of the demonstration, having had no notice. The main purpose, obviously, was to welcome back the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors from its month-long vacation with a "we support you" message and serve notice that "we have not forgotten why the majority of you were elected" and that "we will not be going away anytime soon."

The emphasis on "snob zoning," at a time when the Virginia Supreme Court was considering deliberating the merits of many downzoning lawsuits, clearly meant they considered A-3 zoning [one house per three acres] arbitrary, capricious and exclusionary. The keen observer would have noticed the variety of vehicles involved, which ranged from large farm tractors to lawn mowers, making the point that even the "little guy counts."

This fact reminded the board that, although it faced 21 new proposals [to change existing county building plans], these were mostly large accumulations of land gleaned from "scared to hell" farmers and landowners without the means to go it alone to preliminary plat approval before the previous board stole all their hard-earned equity through downzoning, a concern not without merit, it turned out, as there still remained many small landowners zoned A-20 or A-50 who continue to feel discriminated against and cry out for their help.

These participants were shouting that it was "the land, stupid," owned and husbanded by individuals like themselves, that made Loudoun a desirable place in which to live, yet it was government that made this prospect the least likely for the needy. As owners, they felt they had a sacred, God-given right, certainly, a constitutional and moral responsibility, to put their land to its best use, which, of course, was for food and shelter.

Their choice of expression kept reminding us that the United States, being the richest country in the world, has its wealth vested predominately in its "freedom," which they chose to exercise in their own special way. That it became the richest nation because, first and foremost, it cherished and protected the people's property rights.

Placed on notice, specifically, were those who dared remove "by consent of the governed" from the Comprehensive Plan, along with their supporters, mainly the "headless horsemen of the hunt," that they best trod their filthy hooves lightly and, perhaps, elsewhere.

Their action kept begging the question as to what was there about "no" that the "no-growthers," along with the misinformed "tree huggers" and "frog kissers," whom they coerced, didn't understand?

Lawrence V. Phillips

Round Hill