Property Rights Foundation of America®

Carol W. LaGrasse, from Positions on Property, Vol. 3, No. 1, Jan. 1996

Amendments Considered for Protection of Home Rule,
National Sovereignty and Property Rights

1. Prohibiting nomination of Heritage Area as U.N. World Heritage Site.
  This prevents the promotion of Heritage Areas to protection under the World Heritage Site Treaty as envisioned in the 103rd Congress.
2. Property owner notification followed by several hearings throughout the area before the designation is implemented.
  Individual property owner notification and opportunity to be heard are essential and can be inexpensively included in tax assessment notices or else mailed separately. But notification and hearings are meaningless if Congress has already finalized the designation of an area. Each potential designation should be reviewed for compliance with this constitutional requirement unless the property owner opt-in clause is added.
3. Compensation to private property owners if designation results in taking of private property (or a taking by the National Park Service).
  Thus is potentially meaningful only if the Management Contract between the Secretary of Interior and the State/Regional Agency clearly mandates the zoning that is the source of the taking.
4. Sunset clause.
  Sunset clauses are not completely meaningless, but often so.
5. Allow local government to opt out of area.
  It is unlikely that many local governments could opt out, for a number of reasons discussed elsewhere.
6. Revise bill so that local governments have to opt in for their jurisdiction to be included.
  This is a bolder protection for home-rule (local representative government) and private property than the previous option but would be meaningless if the State plays a shell game with a carrot-and-stick approach.
7. Allow private property owners to opt out of area by notifying Secretary of Interior.
  This would be effective if the law clearly spelled out the right of property owners to opt out of related state and local zoning law. But a perversion of the "opt out" concept, to allow property owners to opt out by paying a fee to the federal government is nothing but another proof of the insidiousness of the Heritage program.
8. Revise bill so that private property owners have to opt in.
  In effect this would make the current idea of the "management contract" between the Secretary of Interior and the State/Regional Entity meaningless. With this concept, individual property owners would, in effect, be in the position of having the freedom to nominate their property for designation as a site within any Heritage Area. This is the desired position for protection of rights of private property owners. If the heritage program were as harmless as it pretends to be, this would be the way it would be structured. All of the "linkages" and tourist promotion would be possible and culture would not be forced into the mausoleums of elites. The elites could share their wealth to persuade and help property owners be more sensitive to traditions.

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