Some oddballs have on occasion advocated for a system of governance that protects property rights. The idea is that the individual, and not some abstract collective, is sovereign. When government is instituted to make sure a person is secure and free to do as he peacefully pleases with that which he owns; that amazing feeling of having the rug swept out from under is itself swept away.

As an alternative approach to the dominance-submission game, Asheville City Council is no fan of vesting property rights with the respective owners. Instead, it prefers to leave them in the hands of the neighbors or anybody else who cares to weigh in with pressure. With this system, the ability to develop one’s land becomes not a matter of whether or not one had the purchasing power to acquire it, nor the resources to invest in development. It becomes a matter of whether or not one can pay enough attorneys to defeat action to have the property rezoned by neighbors without the owner’s input, whether one’s attorney can defeat ex pos facto legislation applied to his project while it was intentionally hung up in processing, whether or not the city is technically precise in the reams of paper it must push to satisfy the bureaucracy, whether one can get enough people to sign a counter-protest petition, and a host of other uncertainties.

This week, council will revisit a neighborhood-initiated rezoning of property to stop a developer from proceeding with plans.

An attorney representing the affected property owner . . . stated strong objections to the proposed rezoning and to the legality of the City to consider a rezoning on the property without protecting existing rights of the property owner. . . .

Mr. Thom Holman, representing Caledonia, LLC and Kenilworth Apartments, LLC, objected to any changes of the Institutional zoning. He explained in detail why he objected on the grounds that these proposed rezonings are inconsistent with the long history at this location, they are unlawful, inappropriate, [and] unfair. [The proposal] violates due process rights of the property owner, [is] arbitrary and capricious, will cause substantial monetary damage to the owners of the property, sends the wrong message to both developers and property owners, and weakens the Comprehensive Plan. . . .

Mr. Paul Smith was concerned that this gives the appearance to a developer that even though he starts a project, the City can change the zoning.

Mr. Robert Zieber, Asheville resident, suggested a bond for projects if the developer goes bankrupt before the project is complete.