Haywood County attempted to infringe on peoples’ privacy and independence a little more in the name of public health. A proposed ordinance was to govern the disposal and transport of solid waste, but it angered “75 or so people” enough to turn out to a public hearing. These people particularly didn’t like the fact that the proposed ordinance gave the director of the health department authority to pay unwelcome visits on private property. They also opposed the authority vested in the director to fix offending waste issues and file liens on property to recover expenses. Persons violating certain waste ordinances could be charged with misdemeanors.

According to the Mountaineer:

Under the proposal, those in charge of any premise are responsible for the sanitary storage of all solid waste accumulated on the property. The rules state garbage must be stored in a way that there are no odors or gases from decomposed micro-organisms, and rubbish shall be stored in a way that it can’t harbor rodents or collect water where mosquitoes and flies can breed. Rubbish must not be stored in a way where it can be blown or washed off the property or be a fire hazard.

Super-activist Jonnie Cure complained the citizens had shouted down the commissioners’ attempt to violate their property rights with a nuisance ordinance last year. Now, the commissioners were trying to wrest the same powers from citizens in the name of public health. Health Department Director Carmine Rocco argued the new powers he would be awarded were “based on science.” Attorney Russell McLean took up for the Constitution and said neither the director nor police officers have the right to enter property without providing evidence to substantiate a need for a warrant. Rocco cited state law vesting in the director the right to enter property without a warrant. McLean replied the offending language did not bear repeating by the county.

At least in Asheville, any stormwater or steep slope ordinance proposed recently bestows upon the person in charge powers to enter property without a warrant. To illustrate, excerpts from Section (g) of Asheville’s proposed stormwater ordinance include:

(1)(a) Inspections: The City shall perform routine, random, complaint based, systematic inspections or a combination hereof to ensure continued compliance with the requirements of this section. The City may also conduct joint inspections with other agencies inspecting under environmental or safety laws during or post construction. Notice of the right to inspect shall be included in the approval of each permit application.

(2) City Investigations: The City shall have the power to conduct an investigation as it may reasonably deem necessary to carry out its duties as prescribed in this section and, for this purpose, to enter at reasonable times upon any property, public or private, for the purpose of investigating and inspecting the sites of any activity regulated in this section. No person shall refuse entry or access to any authorized representative or agent of the City, who requests such entry for purposes of inspection, and who presents appropriate credentials, nor shall any person obstruct, hamper, willfully resist, delay or interfere with any such representative while in the process of carrying out his/her official duties.

(3) Administrative Inspection Warrant: If the owner or occupant of any property refuses to permit such inspection, the Stormwater Administrator shall proceed to obtain an administrative inspection warrant pursuant to NCGS 15-27.2. No person shall obstruct, hamper or interfere with the office of the Stormwater Administrator while carrying out the official duties of this section.