Home > Uncategorized > Church Fined for ‘Excessive’ Pruning

Church Fined for ‘Excessive’ Pruning

This isn’t a post about the separation of church and state. This isn’t a post about someone harassing a church or a church harassing anyone else. I just want to ask a question, “What business is it of any level of government how you prune your trees?”

Recently I have applied for a permit to erect a sign for my driving school. I submitted the application, along with a depiction of what the sign will look like, a “to scale” map of the property, the estimated value of the sign, a copy of my articles of incorporation, a check for 30 dollars, and a pound of flesh. Now I am promised that with 4-6 weeks I will have a permit so that I can put up a sign, unless it is disapproved, in that case I’ll have to make changes and go through the whole thing again, including paying 30 dollars and waiting 4-6 weeks.

Why does it take 4-6 weeks? Because of cut backs. The real question is why do I need a permit to do this?

Another example of government excess, just like fining this church 4,000 dollars for the terrible sin of cutting too many branches from trees they own. Do we need to be paying tree police? Do we need sign police?

These are not cases that have any effect whatsoever on other people, it’s meddling in the business of private citizens, trivial perhaps, but both symbols of government run amok, waste and senseless interfering in peoples lives.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Lovdahl
    2011/05/31 at 03:51

    Absolutely right. It seems when it comes time to cut budgets that these programs or people are never the first to go, but schools and public safety are. I guess its been determined that the tree and sign KGB is too important to cut.

  2. 2011/05/31 at 13:56

    Do you support a community having the right to establish its own rules? Let’s set aside the “rules for protection” category (speed limits, drunk driving limits, etc). If a local community with, for instance, a historic district wants to create rules that preserve that historic district (so that you couldn’t, for instance, replace a 100 year old victorian house with a boxy modern house, or that a bar can’t be built within 500 feet of a church building), do you support that neighborhood/community’s right to set up such rules? Or do you think that neighborhoods should not be able to establish any non-safety rules for behavior at all?

    I live in an historic neighborhood and it’s a pain when it comes time to make needed repairs. But I knew that moving in to this neighborhood. I feel it’s the neighborhood’s right to establish its own rules and buyers should beware. Do you disagree?

  3. 2011/05/31 at 16:10

    I don’t disagree entirely. We aren’t talking about a historic district though, in either case. We are talking about people doing thing on private property with their private property and asking nothing from the locale in which they reside or do business.

    In any case, even if I disagree about the role of government I can see how people and cities justify some rules. Neither of these cases fit. It isn’t any one’s business what my sign looks like or where I put it and it is none of any one’s business what you do with your trees. I don’t agree with restricting bar location or telling people they cant tear down the inefficient house they own, but I see the rationale behind it.

    Trees and signs? How wide my driveway needs to be? Needing to get permission from a board to paint your house a different color or remove the shutters? All of these things are absurd interference.

  4. 2011/05/31 at 18:33

    Then the thing to do, it seems to me, is not to move to areas where the people have set up rules. I support the local community having the freedom to make their own rules. One person doesn’t get to dictate rules to the community, seems to me.

  5. 2011/05/31 at 18:56


    We are talking about people doing thing on private property with their private property and asking nothing from the locale in which they reside or do business.

    This rule, according to the story, does not apply to residential areas, but commercial areas…

    These include trees on commercial property or street trees. They do not include a private residence.

    “The purpose of the tree ordinance is to protect trees,” Johnson said. “Charlotte has always been known as the city of trees. When we take down trees, we need to replace these trees.”

    I’m leery of neighborhoods/communities with too many rules and that would be a red flag for me moving in such a neighborhood (although I did), but I support the local community’s right to do so.

  6. 2011/05/31 at 23:26

    Can you describe what gives them such a right?

  7. 2011/06/01 at 06:05

    Self-determination? Deciding what’s best for their own community?

    Are you saying that you think the rights of the individual trumps the rights of the whole?

  8. 2011/06/01 at 06:29

    I guess I would wonder where you draw the line, in determining individual liberty over the group’s liberty. I mean, I imagine we can agree that the group has the right/obligation to place rules around potentially harmful behaviors like speeding and setting speed limits in a residential neighborhood, right? I’m sure you don’t think the individual’s “right” to go 35 mph in a residential neighborhood trumps the rights of the city/neighborhood to set the speed limit at 25 mph, right?

    But beyond that, where do we draw the line? Do you support the right of the community to create noise standards – where you can’t play loud music after 10pm, for instance? Or does the individual’s rights trump the community’s? Do you support the community deciding…

    * that dogs must be leashed?
    * building standards?
    * no selling alcohol on Sunday?
    * no alcohol at all?
    * no refrigerators or furniture sitting out on the lawn (“junk” rules)?

    What is the reasoning where we can decide what the community can and can’t do and what the individual can and can’t do?

  9. 2011/06/01 at 10:18

    You are mingling things that in no way effect other people with things that do.

  10. 2011/06/01 at 10:54

    No, I’m honestly asking: Where do we draw the line? I don’t know the answer. What do you think?

    Do you think it’s strictly at harm (ie, you can criminalize/regulate that which is likely to cause harm to others, such as speeding, but nothing else)?

    Or is it harm and at least some inconvenience/annoyance (ie, speeding can be regulated, but also loud music can be regulated, but nothing else)?

    Or, is it truly up to the local community if it wants to make decisions like how close a bar can be to a church and alcohol sales, for instance – things that don’t in and of themselves cause harm or annoyance to others – and, if so, how far can the local community go? Obviously, we’d all agree (I’d hope) that a local community can’t say, “No whites/blacks/blues in THIS neighborhood,” so the local community does not have unlimited options on what the can codify, but where DO we draw the line?

    I’m asking your opinion on how we decide what IS and ISN’T appropriate for local communities to decide.

  11. 2011/06/01 at 12:18

    I see now!

    In my opinion, I see a huge disconnect between things like abortion and other things that are banned or regulated with impunity.

    I’ll take a variation of you church and bar example for comparison, schools and bars.

    With abortion many consider that it is an individual choice, with few or no negative externalities, except, perhaps for the individual getting the abortion. With schools, bars (liquor and tobacco selling establishments entirely in some cases) are kept a distance to ‘protect children’ from… well something I’m sure.

    I guess the idea is that by simply keeping alcohol at a distance from schools, you can keep it away from kids, foolish I know, but there you are. You can at least imagine some negatives stemming from proximity so communities regulate them away.

    Abortion has negatives for the community as well though, I pondered on this a while back in another post. It seems to me that the biggest effect from abortion is to reduce the future labor force, reduce future tax revenues from those who are aborted, and so on, you can imagine the rest.

    If communities are allowed to regulate or ban things that are harmful to the communities at large, I can understand bans on abortion and bars near schools. I still can’t see the regulation of things that affect no one but the owner of the property, the original example being tree branch trimming.

    I just want to touch on building codes. Building codes are not some much to protect the homeowner as they are a future home buyer. Communities set standards and many people have home inspections prior to buying to check what is and is not up to code. Anything not disclosed has to be fixed. You can do any damn fool thing you like after the house is built, but in selling it that stuff may come back to haunt you. Building codes are being used against their reasonable purpose now though, such as in San Fran where low flow toilets are mandated, and the lack of water flow is destroying their sewers. It’s a stretch to call that social engineering, but you get my point.

    To sum it up, Communities should only be able to regulate things that happen on public property, and only within reason and only things that cause harm or likely will cause harm to people and property. I’d make exceptions for reasonable building codes and things of that nature, but on the whole if communities can just set whatever rules they want, you end up with real oppression of the minority, by the majority. Much more likely at the local level than at the federal level.

  12. 2011/06/01 at 12:26


    That’s the post if you are interested. As Michael notes in the comments there are issues with what I did there, but it was really for arguments sake more than anything. Also as he notes, it is static forecasting, meaning I’m not taking into account most everything.

    Outlawing abortion would likely lower the pregnancy rate, increase the infant mortality rate, etc. The staggering numbers make it clear to me though, that abortion does have effects on people other than the one undergoing the procedure.

  13. 2011/06/01 at 13:23


    To sum it up, Communities should only be able to regulate things that happen on public property, and only within reason and only things that cause harm or likely will cause harm to people and property.

    So, for you, do things like noise regulations, distance from bars/strip clubs, alcohol bans… do these fall under the category of “causing some harm, or likely to…” and are regulations you’d support?

    Are you opposed to historic districts creating rules for their neighborhoods?

    I think that local neighborhoods should not be held to a tyranny of One, where one person can decide he wants his yard to look like a scrap yard or that he can walk around nude.

    I don’t think individual rights trump the rights of the many, unless we’re speaking of life or liberty or oppression. That is, the group has NO right to oppress, enslave or harm the individual by vote, but beyond that, a community is within their rights to set up rules for their community if they so desire.

    So, for instance, a eco-village could be built where the people who move their agree to building by some green standards and, thus, the individual can’t just say, “NO, I won’t abide by your rules – my wishes and whims outweigh the community’s desires and plans,” Or, for another example, a community can rationally establish alcohol regulations (saying you can’t sell beer on Sundays or at all, if it’s the people’s will) or public decency laws and the individual can’t move in and just choose to ignore the will of the People. At a local level, I support local autonomy.

    I don’t think these sorts of rules should be implemented from a federal level, but I do support local free will and oppose the individual’s wishes superseding the will of the many. That would, to me, be a tyranny of the One.

    I reckon we disagree on that point.

  14. 2011/06/01 at 13:27

    It’s currently a tyranny of, maybe not one, but certainly of the few. These rules are not created by vote.

    Would you support abortion being banned in a certain locale?

  15. 2011/06/01 at 14:39

    Abortion is a medical procedure. I would not support bans on any approved medical procedures because that gets into interfering with people’s health. It would cross into the “harm” category. I don’t support local communities setting up rules that cause harm or oppression to anyone, because that crosses a Constitutional boundary. I oppose local communities regulating/discriminating against people by race, by orientation, by belief system, etc. I’m not talking that category of regulation – those are all counter to our Constitution and we have certain protected rights.

    But in the case of beer sales, yard/house rules, public indecency, zoning, etc, I support the local community’s right to decide for themselves. You are saying you oppose this, I guess?

    Do you oppose local entities “forcing” people to wear clothes in public areas? Noise regulations? Do you think the “right” of some teen-agers to play music obscenely loud after midnight trumps the neighbor’s rights not to be bothered by it?

    If so, then we disagree. Fortunately, I believe the law is on my side, in this case. The feds can’t tell local communities what rules (non-harmful, non-oppressive rules) they can and can’t set up. Local people have autonomy to make their own decisions. You do agree that this is the case, don’t you?

  16. 2011/06/01 at 18:40

    Most of those things are harmful in some way to other, you don’t seem to fully grasp my point.

    Abortion, when it’s an elective procedure, shouldn’t be anymore sacred than breast implants. Of which, new installs have been banned in some states from time to time and no one in the US can have silicone ones anymore, at least not unless there are complications from the saline ones.

    Abortion is a medical procedure, yes, but so is circumcision, and at least one liberal enclave is trying to ban that, albeit only for those under 18. But its a medical procedure! Do you support that?

    Communities need to stop worrying about all the things that others are doing that they feel they have a need or right to regulate and restrict. Disrupting peoples sleep with loud music is obviously harmful Dan, and I can see having regulation against it. I can’t see deciding how people can cut their trees and what and where my sign can be on my property, that’s just asinine.

  17. 2011/06/01 at 21:01

    As I said, we disagree. And, unfortunately for your position, I think the law has allowed that communities CAN make these sort of decisions.

  18. 2011/06/02 at 00:01

    The law once allowed slavery, and that was a bad idea too.

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