New Jersey town orders Native American tribe to take down teepees
A snobby town in New Jersey consisting of a private gated community . . . called The Polo Club . . . wrapped around a 14 acre Native American reserve, has filed for a judgment in the State Superior Court that will force the tribe to remove its teepees, tents and art. The Town Manager used Orwellian double-speak to make the television viewers thinks that this is a normal power of a zoning ordinance.
To see the newscast, go to: http://watch.windstream.net/play/157409449
What The Polo Club pseudo-municipal government has done is adopt the original design guidelines of a private development as a zoning ordinance for an incorporated town in order to give it more legal teeth in the enforcement of esthetic regulations. To date, the town council has gotten away with this travesty because every property owner in their town was already subject to the private development’s guidelines . . . except the Native American tribe. The tribe’s land has been annexed into the town, but its current use pre-dated the existence of the town.
Zoning ordinances have been strictly limited by multiple rulings of the United States Supreme Court from exercising restrictions based on esthetics. A clearly defined process must be followed to designate a Historic District or Urban Design District. A separate design review commission must be set up, which is composed of especially qualified members, like architects, landscape architects, artists, tree scientists, etc. Tents, teepees and public art cannot be made subject to building use and setback restrictions, because by legal definition, they are not permanent buildings.
Furthermore, a local government CANNOT “zone out” a pre-existing land use. That has been ruled by the US Supreme Court. If this artificial town tries to go down the eminent domain route, it would have to pay the property owner, ergo, the tribe, for the lost “utility” of the land for its use as a Native American reservation. In this case, the value of their property would probably be based on its potential use as a upscale gated community . . . which in New Jersey would be at least $2 million.
I cannot emphasize enough that this is an entirely different situation legally than the oil line controversies out in the Dakotas. This tribe owned that land before The Polo Club existed. They established its current use . . . religious worship and outdoor recreation . . . before the incorporated town existed. There is a reason why our founding fathers put in clauses within the US Constitution that protected private property rights. They foresaw situations just like this one in New Jersey.
I also noticed that the spokesmen for this tribe were tri-racial. This is quite common in the Middle Atlantic States and in the Carolinas. Mixed heritage is certainly no justification for trampling private property rights, protected by the US Constitution.
Before I became an ignorant peon, self-styled historian, pseudo-archaeologist and DANGEROUS!, I had been a practicing city planning consultant for decades. During those years I authored a legion of comprehensive plans, urban design plans and historic district guidelines for communities in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. I prepared the first comprehensive plans for Charleston, SC, Auburn, AL, Opelika, AL, Lee County, AL and Woodstock, VA plus the award-winning urban design plans for Midtown Atlanta, Asheville, NC and Smyrna, GA. It has long concerned me that economic elites in the United States are trying to corrupt the science of planning to promote their private interests via blatant violation of our constitutional rights.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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