Posted by
Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Jack Down, President of Citizens Against Repressive Zoning

In an older web page I complained bitterly because the people local governments hire to be code enforcers, so frequently are sick individuals who thoroughly enjoy being able to push weak and inexperienced people around are those who get a psychological charge out of being given a job that encourages such actions.

In this article I will go one large step beyond this complaint and tell you, and then give examples, of these zoning ghouls that fully intend to solve their zoning problems by killing, murdering, citizens who run afoul of their government-enhanced nuisance zoning codes.

Do you doubt what I am saying? Do you think I am off base? Read these sad cases and make your own decision. Zoning is one of the worst cases of freedom taking in the whole of the USA and cares not one whit if a family or an individual is totally ruined. It is difficult to know how many wives have left a husband who has gotten crosswise of some zoning ghoul or how many children have lost the basis of a loving family over some governmental zoning enforcement.

Our first case, when we were quite new, was right here in Michigan, near Kalamazoo, when a nothing little township, named Pine Grove, decided a poor, uneducated man, Dan Doering, who, not following their local nuisance zoning code, needed their treatment. Dan had his property surrounded with a high fence. He lived in the country and, as he said, had cows for neighbors. He had a house, damaged by fire, several sheds and a house trailer he lived in. He stored his odds and ends in an old bus, had a boat and trailer and several other vehicles behind the fence. He came home one day and found a notice nailed to his gate. He avoided the sheriff for weeks until he came home and found a crew inside his property. They had smashed down his fence, pushed it into a neighboring field and burned it along with several large piles of split wood he used to heat. The sheriff brought a dozen prisoners who had been let through his living quarters and had taken everything he owned, including a large and valuable coin collection. A local wrecker owner had taken all his vehicles to a junk yard along with a collection of about 600 hub caps worth at least a fiver apiece. They had taken a huge pile of aluminum cans, worth by law ten cents each here in Michigan. They had destroyed his house trailer and boat and trailer by running heavy equipment over them all. He was made penniless and homeless in one fell swoop and the township people only laughed about it. He saw the sheriff holding his medicines—he was a veteran of the Korean war—and asked to have them. The man took off the caps, poured them on the ground and twisted his heel into the pile. In six weeks he died of a heart attack and when the family went after Pine Grove, their lawyer missed all chances to gain something by not following legal limits set up by law. They got virtually nothing, and a man I considered a friend already, was gone forever. All for nuisance zoning.

One of our Directors, Rene Elliott, has sent us two stories, separated by several years, of neighbors of his who have felt so harassed by the local zoning ghoul that each one went out into the yard of his home, threw a rope over the lowest limb of his favorite tree, made a noose and hanged themselves in order to escape the unreasoning persecution of zoning. The last of these was sent to me by the internet about a week ago.

I find it rather amazing that people go into McDonald's quick food establishments and open fire on strangers, yet rarely go after people enforcing zoning. But even that occurs. This story made the news all over the United States but zoning enforcers, including judges, did not appear to learn anything from it all.

The man was Carl Drega of Columbia, New Hampshire. He is described by the local press as a trouble-maker, but in reading about the man in earlier days, it is quite clear that he grew up as normal as you and I, without making waves over his freedoms. But the time came when local authorities persuaded the local law enforcers to sign papers against him in order to take his property away from him and some small incident pushed him beyond what he could stomach. The papers ran headlines, TIME BOMB EXPLODES and truly that describes all but the early life when he obviously was not a time bomb at all.

Anyway, the day came when, because of the actions of a local judge, he was stopped on the road for having—crime of crimes, a rusty truck. He shot and killed the policemen who did this, and then drove to the offices of the judge and lawyer, Vickie Bunnell, who had had a hand in the legal paperwork against him and finally went to the office of the editor of the local newspaper, Dennis Joos, whom he felt had written one-sided news items against him, and shot him fatally. Then he took on a Vermont game warden and finally three officers, who killed him. All over zoning and codes and, of course, his view of freedom.

Elizabeth Township in Pennsylvania, a place I will never go to, has had several zoning confrontations that could have ended fatally and one did. Daniel Graff was apparently a man who prized his freedom strongly and felt that the local government did not. As is common, once he made waves against these officials, they decided to lean harder and in time cited him for not keeping his property as neat and clean as their codes demanded. The township hired a man named Pflumm to clean up the property and he came with machinery to do so. Groff told him to get off his property and records do not show that he had a warrant although he probably did. Pflumm told Groff that the sheriff would be there eventually to escort him on to Groff's land. Groff climbed onto his own front-end loader and pushed the invading truck sideways until the tires went flat. Pflumm called for help and took photos, where upon Graff pointed his shot gun at him and told him to get off his land. Groff had used his land as a storage place for old machinery and did not feel the current change in laws could hold him accountable for continuing his old practices of the past 20 years. This lead to a standoff wherein Groff finally placed his shot gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

His son vowed to carry his old law suit on against the Township for loss of civil rights, but a year later died in a mysterious air crash that many people feel was overly fortunate for the township. Since that time the local government has allowed the farm to grow to weeds and the buildings to deteriorate, while they were ready to ride a man to death for not taking care of his own land—all over zoning and codes. The property is now in shambles.

Another case that is sad and disgusting is that of Lonnie Causseaux of Tallahassee, Florida. Mr. Causseaux was known for being odd. His own family found him strange enough to avoid. He collected "stuff" that he did not need and could not use and he did nothing to make it neat or attractive. In time a zoning ghoul got on his case and cited him and gave him legal papers telling him what he had to do to keep on living in his own home. This man did something that most zoning ghouls do not do, on the day for an expected showdown he brought an armed policeman with him and when Mr. Causseaux came out of his house with his gun in hand, the cop simply shot him to death and thus another zoning incident was settled in favor of the city.

The next case which we found so tragic was that of a very attractive young mother who was having deep psychological problems. Her own mother was being harassed by a local Michigan zoning ghoul over a house trailer in the yard behind the family home. The enforcer gave the mother a limited amount of time to remove the trailer, knowing full well the family could not afford to do so, after telling her that she would have the trailer removed and the expenses added to the property taxes, also knowing that would mean the loss of their home since Michigan law is so nasty on civilians who have such charges added to their houses. The young lady called the 911 number stating that she could not live with this harassment any longer and that she was going to burn herself up. The operator heard a boomf sound and sent the fire department. When they arrived the family home was blazing and the lady was out in the yard on fire. She died a few days later and Orleans Township won a zoning case without recourse or much expense or trouble.

Another case happened in a nearby township in Saranac, Michigan. Charles Prinz was a carpenter who had seen his own father maltreated by officials and never forgot the scene. He carried a strong grudge against all unnecessary administrative freedom takers and when he wanted to build a tower onto his home and could not get a permit to do so for unknown and he felt unreasonable reasons, he built it anyway. This of course was a direct threat to the entire nation and their zoning codes. Two officers were finally sent to arrest Prinz for not appearing in court for a hearing to make him tear down his carefully constructed and executed tower. Prinz shot them both seriously and then ran off to hide in the woods. He was tracked for about ten days and finally found by well armed deputies and then shot to death although it is believed he did the final shooting himself. Another taxpayer shot over zoning and enforcement of nothing important.

It is often difficult to divide cases into categories. This is not zoning but it is land use in Malibu. David Scott was a wealthy man who had bought land surrounded by government land—legally termed an inholder. The government decided to buy his land and made an offer. Money not being important, but freedom being very important he refused; so someone set about to get the land free. You know the U.S. Government has found that if drugs are present in a crime scene, the government can take everything and keep it, so this person or people decided to locate marijuana on Scott's land. They sent an airplane over with a rat fink who managed to spot the weed growing, from 5000 feet up with his naked eye, and a raid followed with local police who were promised some of the loot. Scott had been drinking when they hit and the first he knew was when his wife was standing in the living room yelling "Don't shoot me ..." on October 2, 1992. He, not knowing who the thugs were, grabbed his pistol and came running to help and not being real bright with the liquor, apparently was slow in dropping his gun. The police dropped him and we understand that the government recently paid Mrs. Scott 5 million for this fiasco.

Zoning cases are often perpetrated upon people who are known as trouble makers. This becomes obvious. Akron had a beauty that just happened to leave no dead bodies but certainly could have.

An 80 year old resident, tough and mean enough for his wife to leave him and move out of his house, was told that the city was going to tear down his home. Why the officials could not see that this would be upsetting is beyond me but that was the case and they sent two young cops to do their dirty work and a gun fight ensued. Both the cops and the homeowner were shot but none of them died. Of course the home owner lost his home and gained a new one as law took its course and another zoning problem was solved in favor of the city. Incidentally, I have heard more wild tales about Akron that any other single American city, only most end only with the citizen being beaten in court and not by
city guns. Typical.

Judges are owned by the local government, which furnishes offices and some times the actual paycheck. Attorneys often play golf with the local judge and do not like to appear in front of a judge against a governmental unit as they want fair treatment on the important cases, not the two-bit zoning cases. What chance does a citizen have of getting justice against a local zoning entity, especially since the higher courts have found that zoning is presumptive, which means it is presumed by law to be legal and it is up to the citizen to prove that it is not legal? What chance is there in Michigan where state law allows cities and townships to decriminalize zoning knowing perfectly well that decriminalization removes ALL of one's constitutional criminal rights and these rights can be and are ignored. It is all set up against the citizen.


Marinus Van Leuzen
Joe Hill

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