PLAN FOR “SUSTAINABILITY” DESTROYS HOMEOWNERS’ FRONT YARDS…AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 25, 2013) — On August 16, The Post & Email learned of a situation in Montgomery County, OH, where a homeowner lost her front yard after excavation equipment arrived to begin work on a bicycle path which the regional planning agency had approved earlier this year.
Tom DeWeese, founder of the American Policy Center, which educates the public on Agenda 21 and related property-rights issues, described the demolition of the Granato family’s road frontage as having been caused by “collusion and government corruption” and “a story that is taking place in countless towns all over America.”
Wikipedia reports that Agenda 21 is “a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development,” but it does not appear to require agreement from those whose private property would be taken for public use deemed more suitable by a government commission.
Agenda 21 was developed beginning with a 1992 Earth Summit conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where it was decided that “changing consumption patterns,” “control of pollution,” and “achieving a more sustainable population” were crucial to preserving the environment and combating “climate change.”
Opponents of Agenda 21 believe that its focus on “inequalities of income” and “biodiversity” is antithetical to “the principles of individual liberty, equal justice and the constitutional administration of government.” While the United States has signaled its official support for the program, the Republican National Committee opposes it as “erosive to American sovereignty.”
One of Agenda 21’s goals is to reduce the use of private transportation by promoting “urban transport programmes” and “encourag[ing] non-motorized modes of transport by providing safe cycleways and footways in urban and suburban centres.”
The International Council for Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is a “global” initiative designed to implement Agenda 21 initiatives in towns, cities, “mega-cities” and “super-cities” around the world, which are described as possessing “administrative boundaries.”
On July 17, leaders of the U.S. division of ICLEI’s Resilient Communities for America Agreement spoke with “senior White House officials” on ways to “improve community resilience to extreme weather and climate change impacts, as well as expand federal climate mitigation efforts.” The group reports that:
The President’s plan seeks to remove barriers to local innovations in resilience. Officials will work with federal agencies to find ways to help cities build stronger communities, remove barriers to making climate resilient investments, and encourage smarter, more resilient investments via agency grants and technical assistance. The Task Force will collaborate with federal officials on these issues.
An opinion piece at The Blaze from two years ago states that Agenda 21 was approved by Presidents George H. W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton, the latter of whom issued an executive order to create a “presidential council” on Sustainable Development. The writer identifies private property, single-family homes, choice of transportation, and privately-owned farms as being “at risk from Agenda 21.”
The organization Freedom Advocates reports that Agenda 21 imposes “regionalism” on towns, counties and areas of the country resulting in “a federally imposed extra-constitutional layer of government covering the entire nation” to include Councils of Governments and Metropolitan Planning Organizations.
After publishing DeWeese’s call to action, The Post & Email contacted the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC), whose members were shown in DeWeese’s article as public servants knowledgeable of and perhaps responsible for the bicycle path project which had affected the Granatos’ and others’ homes. Mr. Brian O. Martin responded to our questions, stating that “there are numerous misstatements in Mr. Dewesse’s [sic] article.”
MVRPC’s slogan is “MVRPC — One Region…One Vision…One Future.” Its mission is “to develop public policy and collaborative strategies to improve quality of life throughout the Miami Valley Region.” The commission promises “transparency” in its dealings with the public.
The Post & Email was contacted by an acquaintance of the Granatos who lives in the area and was willing to speak with us about the bicycle path project and its effect on the property owners involved.
THE POST & EMAIL: How long have you known the Granato family?
FRIEND: I’ve known them only since this has come to light. Last April, I was in downtown Dayton for a Second Amendment rights rally. There was a group of people standing, and a councilman from Beavercreek was talking to Jenny [Granato]. She had a piece of paper there, and they were talking about her home and the situation and Agenda 21.
I had learned about Agenda 21 about three years ago at a meeting. I had taken a class called Institute on the Constitution, which is a 12-week course. One of the sidebars in the class is on Agenda 21 and its attack on private property rights. I had read an article by Tom DeWeese about it and put it in the back of my mind. I went to a Kettering City Council meeting because a friend of ours was being sworn in as a council member. While I was there, they had regular business, and there was a presentation done by “Going Places,” which is a part of the MVRPC. A woman named Kathryn Bowman gave the presentation. I was sitting there, and I said to the person next to me, “This is Agenda 21.”
[Editor’s Note: The “Going Places” initiative is described on the MVRPC website as follows:
In July 2007, MVRPC began a regional land use planning initiative called Going Places: An Integrated Land Use Vision for the Miami Valley Region. This three-phase initiative will build a regional land use plan from a shared future land use vision. This conceptual regional plan will provide our local communities with a regional perspective on future land use decisions.
The planning area includes Greene, Miami, and Montgomery counties and the cities of Carlisle, Franklin, and Springboro in northern part of Warren County.
The 3-Phase planning process is:
- Phase I – Existing Condition Assessment : Physical and Non-Physical Condition Evaluation
- Phase II – Future Landscape Exploration : Future Land Use Scenario Development and Assessment
- Phase III – Building a Clear and Shared Regional Land Use Framework
The site reports that “In 2013, the Going Place initiative is in the last half of Phase III. We are working together to develop the regional land use plan, based on the Concentrated Development Vision.”
The MVRCP states that the region is “made up of diverse communities in sizes and characteristics but united by shared identity and values.” ]
THE POST & EMAIL: Did they call it that?
FRIEND: Oh, no, no, no. I decided to go and talk to her, so I met her at the door afterward. I said, “Excuse me, could I just ask you a couple of questions?” and she said, “Yes,” and was very friendly. I said, “Are you familiar with Agenda 21?” and she said, “Oh, yeah!” and I said, “What about ICLEI?” “Oh, yeah!” Then I asked her, “Are you involved in any way with that high-speed rail that was supposed to go from Columbus to Cincinnati?” which is an Agenda 21 project, and she said, “Yeah, but they squashed that.”
She had a map of the tri-county area covered by the MVRPC, and on the map for the year 2040, most of the population is depicted in and around Dayton.
THE POST & EMAIL: Does that seem likely to you?
FRIEND: That’s what they want. The outer areas were listed as “little or restricted use.” So I said to her, “If I have a farm up here in Miami County (and I pointed to the yellow area, which was the “nobody lives there” area), do you want me to move down here?” and I pointed to Dayton, and she said, “Yes.” Well, what if I live over here in Greene and I have a few acres, do you want me to live here?” “Oh, yes!” So she basically admitted to me what it was about.
It was so funny, because when she made the comment about the rail, and I said, “Good,” she then realized, and her happy little smile turned into a steely cold grimace. I don’t live in these counties; I actually live south of them, but I said, “I am going to go to my county trustees in my township and ask them, “Are you familiar with this? Are you doing this?” “Oh, no, no, no…” Well, they had already signed on to do one of these comprehensive plans which every county throughout the United States has. It’s the same kind of concept: intermodal transportation, high-density urban living, a boundary line around the city where no progress is made outside; government funding, which brings all the strings…it’s the same thing. Where I live, they have the same questionnaires; they invite the public; they keep touting MVRPC, and they have “wide public support and input.” I pointed out to them a couple of times now: “The census counted 80,000+ people in the MVRPC area, but on your own website you said you had 1,200 people attend the workshops and the open houses. Of the 1200, which is less than 1% of the population, 600 were middle- and high-school students.
They went to the school, sat down and did some mapping…”Would you like a nature reserve there? Would you like a bike path here?” It’s the same technique in all these places: little sticky dots with different colors which represent water, etc. So 600, and these are young people who do not pay taxes, who have no concept of private property rights, and who do not vote.”
They don’t say, “Would you want more bike paths if it meant that part of your property or your neighbor’s property would have to be taken?”
I have a friend who lives in North Carolina near a beautiful mountainous lake. They have their comprehensive plan there, too, and one of the choices for intermodal transportation – and this is in a mountainous area – is rickshaw. She called me up and said, “You won’t believe this…a rickshaw!”
THE POST & EMAIL: They don’t want oil and gasoline to be used.
FRIEND: It’s not only that. The environmental movement is very involved with the EPA. It’s about control, and it’s about getting resources, because part of it is “social justice.” Where I live in XXXX County, I have ten acres of property. Three acres where the house is is flat on former farmland, and we have woods. In the woods, there’s a steep hill that goes down to the creek. Well, these little guys on this committee listed our property and our neighbor’s property as “hazardous.”
THE POST & EMAIL: How did they make that determination?
FRIEND: Because of the slope. That’s the problem. What does that mean? What does it mean in the future? Does it mean that the EPA can say we have runoff into the creek because they have now said that water is a pollutant? And if I fertilize my grass, that could be running…never mind that’s it’s going through several feet of trees.
FRIEND: When they use nebulous terms such as the big, “comprehensive plan” that they keep repeating over and over again, the average citizen interprets it the common-sense way: to keep the rural feel. But what does that mean? It can mean a lot of things. It could mean that you can’t build a house or do something on your property that you want because they want to keep the “rural feel.”
THE POST & EMAIL: But they are encroaching onto private property.
FRIEND: That’s the biggest problem. I could not get through to my neighbors here. They said, “Oh, that would never happen.” But when they start coming in with the international building codes as part of this… Builders are signing on to “public-private” partners, like the MVRPC. The homebuilders’ association director just published an article in the real estate section of Sunday’s paper. It was total Agenda 21; it was all about the wonderful things about bike paths and building with that in mind, and all the easements they would need for that. It sounds good, and people say, “Well, what’s wrong with bike paths?” It’s very hard to argue against because you can’t make them see that if you don’t make them more explicit in their definition, they can interpret it any way they want.
THE POST & EMAIL: Government very easily gets out of control.
FRIEND: If you ever get a chance to see a video called “The Agenda: The Breaking Down of America,” it shows that the dismantling of property rights started 100 years ago. If you look at everything Obama does, it goes to Agenda 21. Even with Michelle’s food program, they don’t believe in high meat intake, because that uses pastureland because cows need grazing. So we’re back to rice and soybeans, like a third-world country.
THE POST & EMAIL: How many people will be affected by the MVRCP bike path?
FRIEND: It involves at least four homes; they said seven driveways. The bike path is within two feet of the Granatos’ front door.
THE POST & EMAIL: Mr. Martin said in his response that a lot of people have sidewalks even closer than that.
FRIEND: That’s the comment – and maybe Martin made it too – that the county engineer made. They listed FIVE areas in the Dayton area; two of them are very old city neighborhoods that were run down and they’re being refurbished in to artsy places. A few have doors that go right onto the sidewalk, but most of them have little front yards. I told Mr. Gruner, the county engineer, “Mr. Gruner, how dare you say, because there are five areas in this Dayton city area that have zero footage, that the Granatos should be grateful that they have two feet of footage?” And he said, “Well, I didn’t say that.” I said, “But you implied that. And by the way, I checked your address, and you have a nice big lawn with a lot of landscaping. Would you like to live with zero footage or two feet of footage?” And he said, “Well, I wouldn’t like it, but if that’s the way it was…” But he’s not living there!
This is what they do.
THE POST & EMAIL: When you learned of this in April, at what stage was the bicycle path’s construction?
FRIEND: I’m not sure, but a couple of weeks ago, the bulldozers came in to take the shrubbery out from in front of the house. Mind you, the county does not legally own this property yet, and still, they came in with the bulldozers on private property. That’s the day Mary Granato had the fatal heart attack. They’re fairly close to the road now, and the road is going to be widened plus the bike path. They had a privacy screen of tall shrubbery which blocked the road noises.
THE POST & EMAIL: Did the Granato family hire an attorney?
FRIEND: Yes, although I’m not sure exactly when. I know their lawyer is working on it now.
THE POST & EMAIL: Have you seen the front yard recently?
FRIEND: We had a sign rally there two weeks ago with about 22 people standing along the road holding up signs. They could put this bike path either into the road, or across the street, there is open acreage, and they are putting a sidewalk across the street.
THE POST & EMAIL: So they say they need a sidewalk and a bike path?
FRIEND: Yes, and four lanes – two lanes each way with a meridian in the middle. They don’t need all that. Somebody made an enlightened comment. He said, “In the winter, are they going to shovel these bike paths to keep the ice off?” But if they put it alongside the road like many roads, it will be shoveled; it will be plowed. When I proposed this to Mr. Martin and Mr. Gruner, they said that it was not cost-effective to take the bike path across the street. So I said, “Well, is it cost-effective to be going to court and using taxpayer money in this illegal case and using taxpayer money against the taxpayer?” But they have made up their mind.
THE POST & EMAIL: Mr. Gruner’s letter stated that the project is federally-funded. Do you know if the entire expense is paid for by the federal government?
FRIEND: It’s a matching grant. So Washington Township, which is where the Granatos live, and the federal grant, are tied together to pay for this. I’m assuming it also includes the road, not just the bike path. But federal funds are paid by taxpayers. It’s just a shell game. We pay money; Pennsylvania pays money for something, and Ohio gets the grant. It’s just a big, phony game. It’s not a “free grant;” we’re paying for it!
This is what they do, and this is how they operate.
A bunch of us went to a township meeting with the trustees where the Granatos live. “Trustee” is a misnomer, in my opinion. There were three of them there. It was like the Eric Holder/Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton response. We asked them about this, and one trustee, Ms. Young, said, “I just learned about this this morning.” She said, “I didn’t know anything about it. We didn’t do it; the county is responsible. There isn’t anything we can do now.” They don’t know anything, they can’t do anything, they haven’t done anything, and my response to them is, “What good are you? Why do we need you?”
It’s not true what they said, because one of the trustees, Scott Paulson, is on the Board of Directors of MVRPC.
THE POST & EMAIL: Can a person serve on both entities?
FRIEND: This is what they do. On its Board of Directors, the MVRPC has one official from every city, township, and county, and therefore, they say, “We have 49 elected officials on our Board. We’re representing the people.” These people were not elected to be part of MVRPC. They were elected to represent the people in their town and do the best for them, not implement MVRPC/Agenda 21 plan. They’re playing a game: “We didn’t do this; the township did it.” “We didn’t do it; the county did it.”
THE POST & EMAIL: Mr. Martin did say that; “We’re just planners.”
FRIEND: Right, but their plan is to teach the officials how to get grants. They make the plan so that the township doesn’t have to hire engineers and people to do plans…”Oh, we’ll come in and do this for you.” The townships and the counties all pay dues to the MVRPC out of taxpayer money.
THE POST & EMAIL: And that gives them power.
FRIEND: Oh, yeah! YOu’re taking Jennie Granato’s money to pay for them to mess up her property. It’s just a big phony. They have “open houses” things for certification of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), a public access meeting. Well, where did they have it? They had it in their offices in downtown Dayton on the second floor…very beautiful, elaborate office building, by the way; their offices were very expensive-looking. They had it at 4:00 on a Monday afternoon. How many people were going to go to this? The first place I saw it announced was on their website, which 99% of the people don’t know exists. How many people are going to go to that? Virtually none.
We had over a dozen people and there were 20 or 25 MVRPC employees, a lot of government officials such as council members, Engineer Gruner, so there were probably another 15 more officials who were in cahoots with these people, and then there were another half-dozen to a dozen people who were “citizens.” However, I believe they were invited because there is no way they would have known about it, so they could claim this was a public meeting.
The place isn’t big enough for them to have a lot of people there. They had easels set up with maps. You don’t even know what you’re looking at until they explain it to you, and even then they tell you only what they want you to know. It’s just a way for them to say, “We’ve had wide public support and input.”
Well, they got a lot of input that day, but not the kind they wanted. We went around to all the people we thought were just “citizens” and gave out that picture of Jennie’s home and a little explanation of what the MVRPC is doing to it.
THE POST & EMAIL: Do you know if some of the others affected by the bike path were there?
FRIEND: One of them is a relative of the Granatos. The other one is very elderly, and a third one whose house is farther down and back a little more was told by their lawyer to stay quiet. I don’t know anything else other than that. But none of them are happy about it.
THE POST & EMAIL: Mr. Martin claimed that he sent letters out to the homeowners involved, including the Granatos, and that he didn’t receive a response. Looking back, do you believe this could this have been stopped?
FRIEND: I think some of that is true. I don’t think they totally understood. From what I understand, the MVRCP sent them a letter with two options and neither one of the options was good. It was like saying, as an example, “For the bike path, do you want gravel or grass?” It was that kind of a letter. If it had been known earlier, to answer your question, yes.
That is part of what we’re going to do. Under the Ohio Freedom of Information Act, we are going to ask for all properties which are targets of eminent domain within the next five years. I want to know the names and occupations of all the members of the Board of Directors. Besides the 49 who are political, there are 75 in total, and some of them are business people. If you’re a realtor or you own a realty company and you’re in on this thing where people’s property is being taken away, I think people should know about that. I’ve asked for that. I’ve also asked for the individual salaries for each one of the managers and directors of MVRPC. I want to know the dues that they pay to either the APA (American Planning Association), ICLEI or any other association. I want to know the dues that the municipality is paying to MVRPC. It’s a labyrinth. If you go to the MVRPC.org website, you go on there, and you could be on there for weeks, months…!
Most Americans are too busy to do that. In my township, we have about 8,000 people; it’s very rural, and when they did their little planning thing, they supposedly advertised it. I never heard about, and no one I knew knew about it. “Well, we put it on the school newsletter on the web.” Well, who is reading that? The parents look at the classes that their kids are in, and the announcement is all the way down under the “Library News.” It was on the website, but people don’t know that there is a website. So I said to them, “Why don’t you put it on the water bill? There’s a big space at the bottom. Put it on there, and don’t just say ‘Comprehensive Planning Meeting,’ because nobody is going to go to that.” But it just said “Planning Commission Meeting.” What does that mean?
THE POST & EMAIL: Would you say that they were trying to keep it hidden?
FRIEND: Yes. They don’t want people there. Just like that meeting in downtown Dayton…4:00-6:00 on a Monday? You’re kidding me! Who’s going to go to that? Unless you’re walking the streets of Dayton, you don’t have a job or a family, you’re not going to go there. They purposely do not want people to go. In my county, there are 8,000 people. There were 50 people who went to the workshops and surveys, and at least 25 or 30 of them were “invited,” specifically people who were on the “PAC,” or political action committee. Handpicked people came to that and then a couple of others who were invited by somebody. But again, it was less than 1% of the population.
THE POST & EMAIL: Do you think they were invited to add numbers or to be speak in favor of the government’s plans?
FRIEND: They were in favor. Some of them are the PPCs, public-private partnership people. What they do is they get a business; they get a realtor, they get the local biggest business in the area, which is a market here; they get the fire chief; they get a minister from one of the churches who they think will be sympathetic, and they talk to them and get them on board. They “want their input.” They’re “helping plan.” So these people come in with the idea that they are the ones who are making the decisions, but really, the Delphi method is being used to get “consensus” to what is already planned. And if you disagree on something, someone says, “Well you certainly want to have a better community for your children, don’t you?” and then the minute you say “Yes,”…”Well, then we have consensus.”
Wait a minute!!
I went and talked to the guy who owns the drugstore here, and he was so closed-minded, it was unbelievable.
THE POST & EMAIL: How would you say the Granatos are doing right now?
FRIEND: The machines have been stopped because of legal action. As you saw in the photo, they had a big tarp down and a lot of it was dug up. That was when Jennie’s mom had the heart attack and died.
They seem to be holding up fairly well. I don’t know them very well, but I know they are concerned about their 17-acre farm. Not only did the bike path go through, but they were told that a water pipe would go through. They had an agricultural expert testifying in court about this that the water coming from across the street will be flooding part of their acreage.
THE POST & EMAIL: Could they have put the bike path somewhere else?
FRIEND: Across the street!
THE POST & EMAIL: Was there another location other than Austin Road?
FRIEND: They could have gone through the farm acreage. I don’t think they would have objected to a bike path with compensation. It could have gone behind the house. In my opinion, there’s more going on than meets the eye.
One other thing I’d like to say: Two Aprils ago, the MVRPC hosted David Rusk, who is a big friend of Obama and advocates cities without borders. MVRPC had a meeting, and we questioned them about a lot of this stuff. Why would you host somebody who is advocating that the suburbs pay extra taxes for the failed policies of the City of Dayton? “Oh, we’re not hosting him; Wright State University was having him come, and they didn’t have a place…” Wright State University…they have an office building downtown; that’s all they have, but they couldn’t fit David Rusk in for a meeting?…They just lie.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.