The Stealth Land Grabs Of Regional Planners - And Response

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The people of Polk County cherish their land.  Farmers can tell you the soil conditions on every square inch of their acreage and landowners reverently discuss their properties’ history.  These residents would never knowingly submit to strict zoning regulations or government control of their land.  Yet without their knowledge or their informed consent, that is exactly what is about to happen.

Thrive 2055 is a planning scheme to roll 16 counties (including Polk) in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia into a single regional bundle effecting over one million residents.  Drive distances to work, bike paths, light rail, mixed-use construction, and greenbelts will all converge into a unified scheme that is a carbon copy of plans unfolding across America.  By forming a region, zoning decisions now made by local communities, will ultimately fall under the authority of a powerful, regional board. 

Most Polk County residents never heard of Thrive 2055.  It is no wonder.  Only a handful of residents attended planners’ meetings.  On a recent radio appearance, a regionalist spokesperson stated that after two years of community outreach, planners received just 1,200 completed community surveys.  Of the planned region’s one million residents, 998,800 did not participate.

According to planners, community members decide their plan’s makeup and the surveys are critical for gathering their information. The anemic participation suggests very few are interested.  Nor have planners been forthcoming about who took the surveys.  Were they stacked with the families of venders who stand to profit from Thrive 2055, or possibly groups of opponents and their friends? Why are they continuing with a so-called ‘community plan’ with so little interest on the part of the community?  The planners have not answered one of these questions. 

Community participation and full-disclosure about the good and bad of regional planning is fundamental if residents are to make informed decisions.  Thrive 2055 offers no plan details.  They claim the community decides the plan.  What community?  Are the 1,200 who took the survey deciding the plan for the remaining 998,800? 

The few who have heard of the Thrive 2055 have scant idea of the outcomes beyond the colorful brochures and trendy planner-speak. Feel good phrases like, “educated people with good jobs living in a great place” do not inform people.  Rather, they disarm them from questioning the underlying flaws of the process.

Since many people own their land and can produce a property deed, they feel their rights are safe.  Where regionalism is involved, this fatal misunderstanding sets people up to lose their property rights, their home values and their way of life. 

Large regional initiatives like Thrive 2055 eventually depend on government grants for funding.  These grants will place Polk County property rights at risk.  

The government does not need to own land to govern what owners can do with it.  Instead, they need to control the zoning of the land.  That is what regional planning does.  It turns zoning decisions over to un-elected boards who must comply with the requirements of the federal grants that paid for the regional plan’s implementation.

Already, in Chattanooga, the economic epicenter for Thrive 2055, planners are entertaining the idea of form-based codes.  This is a programmable system for fast tracking zoning ordinances while marginalizing or altogether bypassing legislatures. 

Nowhere do planners discuss these important facts with community members. 

The community did not ask planners to sell them a regional plan that would swallow their communities’ choices. It is incumbent on the planners to reach a representative number of people with full disclosure.  It is not incumbent on the people to participate in a poorly defined and unsolicited scheme that endangers their property rights.

Perhaps it is time for Thrive 2055 to admit their failure to inform and engage the public, and simply to move on.    

John Anthony

(The story you have just read is unfolding in communities across the country.  New York’s Capital Region Sustainability Plan, Together North Jersey’s Regional Sustainability Plan, Envision Lehigh Valley [PA], Florida’s Seven50 and California’s Plan Bay Area are a few examples. Google “regional sustainable development” and the name of a city near you to learn more about regional plans in your area.  JA) 

* * * 

Mr. Anthony,
Search Wikipedia on the subject "Agenda 21" and you will learn more than you can peacefully want to know about this takeover via the United Nations and the president's executive order establishing a Conference (or Council) of Mayors.  (Littlefield joined the conference and Berke is continuing to participate).  "Sustainability" is the magic word that few generally would be concerned about, but it is only one piece in the global agenda. 

Thrive 2055 is something all of us should be concerned about.  I conclude that our people are not participating in great numbers with all the busy bees setting up a region because we want no part in it.  I have been researching for the last several years the origination and activities of the elite group in Europe under which evolution of Agenda 21 sprouted.  Dwight Eisenhower was the U.S. representative when the group was formed.  My research tells me that the thrust is one world order under the control of big money and one power.  That is why you may see me here fighting against trade agreements, UN observation of elections in some of our states (remember Texas and Governor Perry's threat to arrest anyone who came within a mile of his border?), and the recent effort by the UN to take over gun control in the U.S. following the tragic school shooting near Boston.  I might add to the list what I observe as a trend toward weakening our military that disturbs me greatly and of course political leaders at all levels creating or revising laws, regulations, or ordinances to take more power out of the hands of the people to give to themselves to accommodate their own agendas. 

Keep your eyes wide open and expect kicking and screaming from those pushing this attempt at a land grab as you call it.  I would expect our rights would go with the land, including our Constitution, over time if we blindly allow them to get away with it.  That is what happens when the background and facts are hidden or cast in a favorable light to fool the people.  There definitely is an "agenda" here stretching into the future. 

Charlotte Parton

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