Here Comes the Bride, Zoning Permit In Hand

Couples wanting their wedding at that charming winery where they met or some other scenic private venue may need to pay a fee to get government authorization in the form of a permit. Complain about it enough, and you could get an IRS audit in the post-Constitution America.

A Virginia government official made known his desire to require wedding permits on private property in an email to colleagues on a 15-member board called the On Farm Activities Working Group (OFAWG). The board was put together by Commissioner Matt Lohr of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to address issues raised in the Boneta Bill.

The Boneta Bill was named after farmer Martha Boneta, who was cited and threatened with $5,000 fines for having a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit.

About those IRS audits, Martha Boneta got one; so did a Fauquier County vintner who fought local environmentalists. More will be reported.

The same anti-property rights zealots who made Martha's life a living hell now want to insert themselves in your wedding on private property using local zoning or 'land-use' laws.

We're not talking about marriage licenses. The anti-property rights crowd wants permits from those who host weddings that take place thousands of times per year at wineries, charming inns, friends' meadows, private residences, etc.

The OFAWG, like so many government commissions deciding things that affect private rights, is overpopulated with government officials. The board addressing rights on small farms also includes lobbyists for Big Ag who opposed the Boneta Bill. Mrs. Boneta is the only farmer on the 15-member board who owns a farm that is under the average size for either the United States or Virginia.

This particular government official, Holder Trumbo, is the Republican chairman of the elected board of supervisors of Fauquier County where Martha Boneta has her farm. He is just one face of the bureaucrats, progressives and other zealots who believe that land use laws may be used to trump and quash individual and property rights.

Trumbo is another poster child -- along with IRS official Lois Lerner and the entire Obama administration -- for why people may not trust government. But Mr. Trumbo is walking proof that even government closest to the people is corrupt, disdainful of rights, and filled with violators of the law.

When Martha Boneta was seen having tea with Susan Allen, the wife of then-Senate candidate George Allen, Trumbo called the Allen campaign to find out the topic of discussion.

When the Boneta Bill was before the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year, Trumbo's Richmond lobbyist told him that the citation against Boneta for the birthday party would not look good, so Trumbo sent a letter to the Virginia Senate falsely denying it happened.

Trumbo has even said that people holding prayer meetings at private residences should be required to get permits -- because of the number of cars. The solution by those even slightly respectful of the First Amendment would be traffic law enforcement, not permits to pray.

Trumbo's comments about the need for permits for weddings on private property came in a private email to his fellow OFAWG members. That is typical of anti-property rights zealots who operate in the dark when their deliberations should be public.

Anti-property rights folks use secrecy and the guise of being environmentalist because their real agenda needs cover. The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner uncovered how EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was apparently violating the law by using a private email account with a fictitious name for official business.

Trumbo's email, however, shows their twisted approach to violating property rights.

He claimed that Virginia's winery statute doesn't expressly identify weddings in the "winery" activities that local jurisdictions may not regulate. The winery statute doesn't protect breathing either. Rights, of course, don't come from statutes, the legislature or government.

In 1926, the U.S. Supreme Court first upheld local zoning laws in Village of Euclid v. Amber Realty Company. Since then, zoning laws have come to be used for more than just zoning. They are now employed by local governments to deprive property owners of their rights, and to extort fees and unconstitutional conditions from people who wish to engage in particular land uses.

While we see the federal government as the 800-pound gorilla in the battle over property rights, so-called "environmentalists" are now spending more energy and money at the local-government level to effect their anti-property rights agenda.

Local incidents depriving people of their rights do not garner much attention in the nightly news. Local government officials will continue to violate property rights as long as they don't pay any consequences. The Boneta Bill provided remedies against local governments and government officials.

The OFAWG addressing the Boneta Bill for 2014 holds its next meeting on July 23, and people may comment at the website. Send them a message that the people want remedies when local officials violate property and other rights.