P.O. Box 75, Stony Creek, New York 12878 - 518/696-5748
The right to own private property is a fundamental American freedom that
guarantees personal liberty and promotes economic prosperity.
Greetings from Stony Creek at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Summer has literally just left and the invigorating fall air always seems to bring with it a burst of energy.
I'm happy that you are with us as we work toward new accomplishments to protect private property rights and strengthen local people and their traditions against the environmental preservationists and overblown government.
The Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., started out as a grassroots organization, drawing on our mutual creativity and strength to meet a great variety of challenges. We remain based on that source of strength. Individual people, working with their own creativity and that of their friends and others in their communities, are the heart of this work.
Our approach is one-on-one, full of the surprises that people bring to bureaucrats and the inspiration that we give to each other.
I am tremendously proud of all that we have accomplished together, usually starting with the commitment of one person fired up to stop zoning or another infringement on private property rights, or expose a long-range designation that would impede the community future, or even to preserve hunting and recreational access to government-owned natural land.
Across the United States, intense battles rage with an erratically recognized, but fundamental, common theme-the threat to private property rights. These battles are our cause. These people are our neighbors.
Our outreach and our responses to inquiries, are focused on issues where an individual person or local group can have a big impact. By and large, the threats and challenges that we generally face are not hidden in distant, powerful agencies or conspiracies that we cannot address.
Therefore, information and tools for PRFA participants are designed to be practical, to provide concrete things that to get their hands around, so to speak, and put to work-whether it is to write their member of the legislature or congress, to get the local newspaper to look further at an issue, or to start action at the local town board or county board of commissioners, and so on.
I can say with confidence that there are real opportunities for the satisfaction of accomplishment in tackling the issues that we delve into.
Most freedom-loving Americans are concerned about the threat to individual rights posed by federal directions that have galvanized an opposition movement against such policies as unsustainable government spending and federally controlled medical care. A tidal wave of national concern is dealing with these issues.
But our battles, which receive far less attention, involve local and regional confrontations that arise in immediate defense of communities and families who face the infringement of their private property rights. These many, many situations are a huge challenge and opportunity for us.
The threats facing private property rights are not solely a western problem, although western landowners and resource-based industry have long been recognized as being hit the hardest. Here in the East, rural people face a dual onslaught to remove the land from the private sector and regulate land use to the point where ordinary families cannot afford to remain in their historic communities.
In the far West, in the rugged western mountainous regions, across the great prairies and central agricultural regions, the eastern mountain chains, and finally to the East's long-settled coasts and deep forests, environmental groups of immense power and wealth use their government connections to squeeze the people off their land.
The deprivation of private property rights is also not just a rural problem.
Urban neighborhoods are being efficiently eradicated by government's imposition of eminent domain to transfer private property from small households and businesses to well-connected developers of commercial and upper end residential projects.
After the City of New London's success before the U. S. Supreme Court in 2005, seemingly justified legal defenses against eminent domain are quite tenuous. Furthermore, where fifty years ago eminent domain for redevelopment was commonly used to meanly target neighborhoods on the unspoken basis of race, now even the ugly favoritism based on race and community traditions is no bulwark. All are insecure and any neighborhood can be deemed so "blighted" as to warrant eradication.
What about the suburbs, those vast, spreading regions surrounding urban core areas?
Here, the use of preservation-oriented and class-based zoning works aggressively to exclude and drive out the ordinary people who lived in the countless villages over which more gracious residential developments sprawl.
Since its founding in 1994, the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., has been exposing these many facets of this single, huge aspect of a tendency toward unconstitutional big government in the United States: the denial of private property rights.
Starting in New York's Adirondack Mountain region, where the state legislature declared a park of a six-million acre region of privately owned land mixed with government forest preserve land and enacted regional zoning to foreclose most land use, the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., expanded its influence across the country by exposing formerly unnoticed land use control devices, such as heritage areas, conservation easements and UNESCO biosphere reserves.
Drawing on what we learned in the Adirondacks, we were actually able to play the key role in having the application for the Catskill Mountains Biosphere Reserve withdrawn from being submitted to UNESCO in Paris by the U. S. Man and Biosphere Reserve Committee at the Department of State and the National Park Service.
The biosphere reserve version of wildlands, or "re-primitivation," with its core areas and land bridges (or wildlife corridors) is one of the tools that the radical preservationists have been applying. But I believe that we've stopped the expansion of these in the U.S. for now, at least.
As the environmental groups gain government support for new versions of their reserves and vast interstate preservation corridors, we are reaching out again to warn local citizens about the ways where they can be effective to protect their property rights.
As spokesperson for the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., I have been called on many times to testify before congressional committees, three of these occasions to testify against UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. We are respected for on-the-ground, yet professional, leadership that can speak to a wide range of issues and inspire and assist the proverbial "little guy" who is backed up against the wall by a government agency.
Our entirely original quarterly newsletter, the New York Property Rights Clearinghouse, which bridges urban and rural issues, is read from coast to coast.
Our freely accessible web site, prfamerica.org, draws appreciative visitors on issues ranging from neighborhood eminent domain such as condemnation to expand a private university, to protecting access to government-owned land such as by preserving private hunting camps on forest land (an area where our organization is credited for major policy change), to the threat of a grandiose national park proposal to include twelve New York counties encompassing over three million people (a developing issue where we are the source of opposition information).
This fall we plan to hold our Fourteenth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights, with speakers from New York and around the nation. We'll look at the recurring modern-day theme of removal of people from their traditional communities and the resistance by the people. This will bring us to the topics of eminent domain, zoning, and environmental preservation.
Among our speakers from across the country will be the noted attorney William Perry Pendley, the President and Chief Legal Officer of the Mountain States Legal Foundation near Denver; the internationally respected legal scholar Roger Pilon, J.D., Ph.D., Vice President for Legal Affairs and Director of the Center for Constitutional Studies of Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.; and international environmental scholar and author Bonner Cohen, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C.
From New York, I'll be joined by top zoning experts John S. Marwell, Esq., of Shamberg Marwell Davis and Hollis in Mt. Kisco and James E. Morgan, Esq. of Galvin and Morgan in Delmar will address the way zoning is negatively affecting the small business person and homeowner.
Grassroots speakers will bring back Ted Galusha, President of Adirondackers for Access based in Warrensburg to talk about the continuing battle with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. A panel of small business owners from Willets Point United will travel to the conference to describe their strategies fighting New York City's hard fist of eminent domain. I am especially pleased that we can host these men. One of them is a friend of Peter and me whom we lost track of when the City took his property in the area of College Point in Queens County where we lived the four decades ago.
In a short time, you'll receive the full conference program, where you'll be able to look over the full roster of speakers.
We have arrived at the point where we are expanding PRFA's outreach to work even harder to turn the tide in the battle to protect private property rights.
We urgently need the help of our PRFA friends right now in this unique vision to insure that fundamental private property rights that are the basis of our constitution and system of law are not allowed to whither.
Your devotion to liberty is all-important to the future of our nation. I'd to personally invite you to support the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc. generously at this time.
The IRS has recognized the 501(c)(3) status of the Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc. for the purpose of tax deductible donations. Our administrative and fund-raising costs are surprisingly low, at less than nine percent of our total expenditures; so our supporters can be confident that their contributions go a long way.
Your generosity to help defend private property rights would
be immeasurably appreciated.
P. S. I hope that you are able to join us
at our October 23 Annual Property Rights Conference at the Holiday
Inn Turf at Lake George. We need your ideas and the inspiration
of your presence and that of so many of our friends being together
at this gathering.