Dialogue sought on property code update

Some opposition has recently surfaced as Marietta City Council members continue to consider updating regulations governing private property issues like junk cars, trash, overgrown vegetation, blight and unsafe housing.

Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, is dedicating several of his planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee meetings to discussions about updating the city’s participation in the International Property Maintenance Code.

Kalter has described the IPMC as a uniform guide to minimum standards for housing, vacant buildings, abandoned vehicles and other quality of life issues within the city.

“But this is a process in which I want to have a community dialogue,” he said Tuesday. “We want people to spend some time talking about this, and anybody interested can participate.”

Following the IPMC is playing into a larger agenda aimed at limiting citizens’ property rights, according to a presentation during Monday’s meeting of the Marietta OH 9-12 Project.

Alabama resident Don Casey spoke about United Nations Agenda 21 to the crowd of approximately 180 who met at Valley Harvest Church Monday night.

Agenda 21, which addresses a wide range of sustainable development and environmental issues for state and local governments, came out of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Concerned that the U.N. initiative opens the door for governments to infringe on personal property rights, Casey is credited with leading the effort to pass anti-Agenda 21 legislation in Alabama-the first law of its kind in the country.

“This is a massive property rights issue that’s an actual publicly-published U.N. agenda-it’s not a conspiracy issue,” said Glen Newman, founder of the Marietta OH 9-12 Project, of Agenda 21. “It’s more government intrusion into our God-given rights under the guise of sustainable development or land and resource management.”

He said Marietta is participating in that agenda by utilizing the International Property Management Code.

“The IPMC is just another part of the larger agenda-a complete overreach of the local, state and federal governments,” Newman said. “And (the 9-12 Project group) will continue, as a major project, to educate citizens about what can be done to slow this down.”

Marietta resident Keith Malone said he attended the Monday night meeting as a citizen and as a local developer.

“But I was there more as a citizen,” he said. “I believe Agenda 21 is very insidious in its nature. A lot on the surface of the agenda looks good, but the problem is that it becomes more invasive into people’s lives as it gets down to the local level.”

Malone noted the U.N. agenda will have a global impact also.

“But it really infringes on the rights of citizens,” he said. “And the troubling part is where does this end? It ultimately ends with the government telling people what they can do with their own land, and could go as far as telling them where they can live. That’s the insidious part. Basically it allows the government to take away property rights.”

Monday’s presentation was aimed at educating people about Agenda 21, Malone said.

“A lot of people don’t have a clue about this agenda,” he said. “But the presentation was well-documented. He even used land use development plans from Ohio.”

Malone said once people become educated about the issue they’ll want to get involved.

Kalter has scheduled eight city planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee meetings on Tuesday afternoons in January and February to provide anyone interested with an opportunity to have input as council members consider upgrading the IPMC.

He’s ordered 22 copies of the 2012 property management code for fellow council members and city department heads, but noted those documents have not arrived yet.

So far there has been little reaction during committee meetings to the proposal to upgrade the IPMC to 2012 standards.

“If people want to speak out they need to come to these meetings. They’re welcome to say their piece about this, too,” Kalter said. “And my only agenda is to make this city the best it can be with the best quality of life for our residents.”

Washington County Commissioner David White also attended Monday night’s presentation.

“The auditorium was full, and some commissioners from other counties attended, too,” White said.

He said the presentation was an indication of how well-intentioned government issues can impact local communities.

“People in government are often well-meaning, but we have to be very careful not to force issues on citizens,” White said. “Some ruling may seem innocuous, but it can trample on people’s property rights.”

Washington County does not base its property management regulations on the IPMC, according to county prosecutor Jim Schneider. He said the county relies on the Ohio Revised Code when it comes to property management issues.

Currently there are only two states that operate under the IPMC-New York and Virginia. But more than 600 local governments, including Marietta since 1999, have based their regulations on the IPMC.