Martha Boneta, a local farmer from Fauquier County, Virginia, has engaged in criminal behavior by hosting a birthday party on her farm for eight 10 year-old girls. Her crime was not obtaining a land-use permit, and she has been threatened with $5,000 in fines.
The land-use permit Boneta did not obtain is both broad and vague. It limits farm sales to agricultural products, a minimum of which 50 percent must be grown on the farm and anything not grown on the farm must be clearly labeled. Unfortunately the rule is ambiguous as to what fifty percent means. Is it fifty percent of each type of vegetable, or fifty percent of the total of all the vegetables sold or fifty percent of the total sales? Additionally, the permit makes it illegal for a farmer to sell water, other beverages, books, pictures, homemade art, farming artifacts or any literature even if authored by the farmers themselves.
If you do not feel offended by the insanity of the aforementioned land-use stipulations, read on. The same rule requires farmers to keep dust down from their driveways. Eureka! Dust free farms. As might be expected, it also provides no guideline regarding the amount of legal dust one may stir up before they are fined. The solution: farmers must water their driveways. In many counties it is illegal to water ones lawn in the summer or even wash a car, much less, to water a driveway.
These types of vague, overreaching and intrusive laws are fruit of liberal bureaucrats, progressives and environmentalists who believe that land-use laws trump individual and property rights. For example, Holder Trumbo, the Republican chairman of the board of supervisors from Fauquier County has stated that people holding prayer meetings at private residences should be required to get permits for parking. Is he referring to parking violations on the street, or parking on private property? Parking violations on public property are already covered under municipal law enforcement.
Though claiming this does not infringe on freedom of religion, it is interesting to note that prayer meetings on private property were singled out. Nothing was said about requiring special parking permits for events on public property.
Trumbo is part of the fifteen-member On Farm Activities Working Group (OFAWG), a public commission established by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Their deliberations are required by law to be conducted in public, not through private emails as was done by Trumbo to OFAWG members arguing that weddings at wineries should be regulated by requiring fees and permits because they were not expressly identified in subsection E of the Virginia winery statute.
Trumbo conveniently glossed over a critical provision in the statute that reads, “Usual and customary activities and events at farm wineries shall be permitted without local regulation unless there is a substantial impact on the health, safety, or welfare of the public.”1 One is left perplexed exactly how did a birthday party for eight 10-year old girls impact on the health, safety or welfare of the public?
There are laws that protect property rights, freedom of assembly, due process and land-use. They are the Virginia and United States Constitutions, and they trump local ordinances.
Coincidentally, the IRS has audited Boneta since her nightmare began and assistant zoning officer Andrew Hushour arrived at Boneta’s farm with four armed county law enforcement officers with him to investigate a “boarding house” violation. She was accused of allowing university students to stay at her home near the farm who were volunteering during their spring break to learn about organic farming.
In an interview with Fox News, Boneta stated, “It’s rather odd that I’m the only farmer in the county having these issues. It’s customary to do these things. It’s done on farms throughout Virginia to help farming and agriculture. Why would I need a permit for a pumpkin carving? This affects every farmer. It affects our ability to earn a living to produce and sell on our own land.” 2 Boneta is suffering from land-use laws, which are a first step toward the confiscation of private property.
We have arrived to the point where we have lost many of our freedoms to use our private property due to intrusive socialist micro-managing laws. If landowners do not peacefully, legally and vigorously defend their right to use their land in accordance with the Ten Commandments and our constitutional rights, the right to own and use property privately will be abolished. Society will be stripped of private property, and we will only have individual stewardship of public property. The land-use laws on the books in Fauquier County are only one step in the process to abolish private property in America.