EDITORIAL: Windsor Township's zoning board hardly acting in 'dictatorial' fashion
Freedom is not absolute.
Even if you’re 75 and even if you own your own property.
That’s just part of living in a civilized society that recognizes community standards.
Sam Seitz learned that little lesson recently, and he’s not at all happy about it.
First, let’s give a little background.
Seitz is from western Pennsylvania, but owns a handful of properties in York County, including a lot at the corner of East Prospect and Cape Horn roads in Windsor Township .
Seitz said he recently requested a permit from the township to place a billboard on that lot in order to make some cash. The township’s zoning board, however, denied his request last fall.
In response, Seitz decided to warn others of the township’s “dictatorial” ways by renting a truck that reads: “Caution Entering Dictatorial Windsor Township.”
Not surprisingly, Seitz’s truck sign was widely shared on Facebook, with folks weighing in on both sides of the controversy. It created a bit of a local social media firestorm.
For his part, Seitz obviously feels he’s been wronged.
"I think they overstepped their boundaries in denying me a permit to do work on my property, which has been in my family's name since 1945," he said. "I'm 75, and I'll do whatever the hell I want with my property."
Seitz used to live in the township and said "it's always been backward."
Well, it seems like Mr. Seitz may be the one who is a little “backward” here.
He may not realize it, but American zoning laws have been around for more than a century, and for the most part, the general idea of zoning has been found to be constitutional by the courts.
The reason for zoning laws is simple. What you do with your property doesn’t impact just yourself, but also your neighborhood. Your rundown house with the overgrown lawn will likely reduce the value of your neighbor’s property.
A string of large, garish, unregulated billboards could do similar harm to the overall community.
As a result, zoning laws have been passed in an effort to protect the community’s interests.
Many folks believe such laws are an infringement of their personal property rights, which they believe to be nearly unlimited.
Seitz likely falls into that category, but he seems laser-focused solely on his own freedoms, without considering the impact it will have on the community as a whole.
So it should come as no shock that Seitz is considering legal action, while also planning to post additional signs opposing incumbent officials during the election season.
That’s certainly his right. It’s also certainly his right to rent the truck blasting the township for its “dictatorial” ways.
That certainly doesn’t mean, however, that he’s right.
Windsor Township’s zoning hearing board is not a dictatorship, which is a form government in which absolute power is exercised by a single person, known as a dictator..
Rather, the board is simply a group of concerned and committed citizens doing their best to follow the law and act in the best interests of the overall community.