Many tiny/small house discussions have come up over the last few years in different places regarding how awful zoning and codes are. I would agree to some extent. However, there are two sides, so here’s a bit of the other side of my story:
I moved to an unincorporated area without a planning and zoning commission so that I could live how I wanted and build what I wanted. Ideally, this would be wonderful. But sadly, there are several less than ideal situations that have arisen from this. So, a few observations from someone who’s been zone-free for two years:
- People here burn ANYTHING. Tires, electrical wiring, plastic, roofing shingles, furniture, you name it, they burn it. Well, in most cases they don’t burn the shingles. They use those, along with pieces of old carpets, linoleum, and other petroleum based products, to line eroding areas of land in an uneducated attempt to save the land.
- Which leads me to the second issue. People here DUMP anything, anywhere. They toss bottles and cans out windows as they drive. Mattresses and couches end up in ditches, dropped off under cover of night. I’m still shoveling used diapers, food cans, and other trash out of my ravine two and a half years after moving in, because the last person who lived here used the ravine, which runs straight into a living creek, as his personal dump. (If you live in this county outside city limits you can opt not to have trash or recycling service. Many do opt out, even though they produce a prodigious amount of trash.)
- Hunting season is exhausting. It would be great except many of the hunters here can’t distinguish a deer from, say, a cow or horse.
- There is no policing. Unless the police want to issue tickets, they refuse to involve themselves in county matters. They’ll file a report if something is stolen, but they don’t enforce laws.
- Department of Natural Resources would never pass a good number of the septics and lagoons in the area. They sit too close to neighboring properties or neighbors’ wells. The lines have been ‘maintained’ by digging out the ends of them and letting the water flow freely onto the property. Some lines have been cut or don’t exist at all. (Even a local city is still run on a lagoon system, and is over capacity and facing large fines. The residents won’t vote for repairs and expansion, though.)
- Animal control doesn’t exist. Dangerous animals, abused and neglected animals, all are acceptable in this area. The police won’t respond. The shelters are full (always). Vaccinations aren’t required. And so the neighbor’s biting dog who is catching and killing coons, possums, squirrels, cats, smaller dogs, chickens, etc, is allowed to continue to run free. If I have a problem with the dog, I can move or I can catch the dog and put him to sleep (risking the neighbor’s complaint that I destroyed his dog).
There have been other issues too, but tonight I am tired. And desperate to move away from this ideal setting, where there is no zoning, no planning, no codes to tell me what to do… and none to make a safe environment for others, either.