Its been a long road for Bismarck native Anne Cleary. Over two years ago, the Bismarck City Commission turned Cleary’s dream of building a home into a nightmare when they rejected her request to build on a vacant lot she owns within the city. You can see the article I wrote about that awful decision here.
You see, the property that Cleary wants to build on lies within the historic Cathedral District. The idea of building a new home among houses listed on a national registry has stirred up controversy with neighbors to the property. In the most recent rumblings, one neighbor even had the audacity to claim that others in the area didn’t have a fair chance to buy the property themselves. As if that’s some sort of right, I guess?
In spite of her dreams being dashed in 2017, Anne Cleary apparently decided that with new faces on the City Commission she’d give it a go again. After being denied one of her two variance requests earlier this month by the Board of Adjustments — both variances being necessary to make the home a reality — Cleary appealed the decision to the City Commission.
So, yesterday, after hearing comments from both sides of the issue, the commission voted to overturn the decision of the Board of Adjustments— making Cleary’s plans for a home on the 50 x 50 lot one vital step closer to becoming a dream come true. Not only did they approve it, but they did so on a 5-0 vote— a stunning turn of events.
As someone who was critical of the previous commission’s decision two years ago, I have to give credit where credit is due. The current Bismarck City Commission got this one right.
Yet, the fundamental problem with this situation is something I’ve mentioned a number of times on The Minuteman over the years— planning and zoning ordinances. They are too often legalized tyranny. When a property owner, such as Anne Cleary, must go hat in hand to a city commission and beg for permission to build on property that she owns; is this true property rights? There’s a simple answer to that… No. Unfortunately, it’s an American version of, “If it pleases the crown.”
Hopefully Ms. Cleary’s neighbors can now move on and perhaps learn to be neighborly.
Note: If you’re interested in viewing public comments on the issue, you can do so by clicking here. They begin at the 2:18 mark.
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