A conversation among Blue Earth City Council members this week illuminates a clear problem in that city, and likely elsewhere: overregulation.
A?City Council member told his colleagues this week that some homeowners are peeved that the city doesn't seem to be granting variances for construction on residential property. In fact, only one variance has been granted in the past six months.
Blue Earth's mayor sat down and read the city ordinance governing variances. His conclusion? The law seems to make it impossible to grant a variance. "We're discouraging people from doing stuff in our town," he said, referring to improvements that are put off or never happen.
The City Attorney notes that state standards have become more strict, putting pressure on cities. What to do about it seems an open question.
All of this is awful, and begs questions about how we have transformed from a nation of individual rights and liberties to one that is mired in constant and overreaching oversight by government at all levels. It is one thing to have zoning laws so that a factory does not open in a quiet neighborhood. It is another to enact and enforce rules that do little more than obstruct and frustrate property owners, sometimes seemingly for little more reason than to give bureaucrats something to do.
We hope Blue Earth can work something out to accommodate rather than stymie local home improvements. We hope our state lawmakers, for their part, recognize this issue and get to work on it.