From: Tom Bice
A few years ago, I attended a Trempealeau County Board of Adjustment hearing to witness the level of justice in an average hearing. The Board of Adjustment is made up of appointed citizens who are given the responsibility to decide whether an appeal should be granted or denied. These hearings are posted with public notices, and that was the only way I knew about it. I had no previous information on the people involved or the subject for this particular hearing.
A married couple from rural Trempealeau County was there to ask for a reversal on a decision that demanded they tear down their monument. They had received a citation because the monument they built in honor of their son who had recently died of cancer was about two feet too close to the road. The monument was about 20 feet from a straight rural town road, and it was a wooden structure that was about four square feet. This road sees a few cars an hour, and if a vehicle were to ever run into the monument, the monument would do far less damage to the vehicle than a medium tree. We have over a million trees, small and large, throughout the county, and they are much closer than 20 feet on town roads. The couple had no idea that they had built the monument too close to the road, and there hadn’t been a problem until someone made a complaint about it. We do not know who filed the complaint, but I would give their name if I had it. I was told they are protected by the Whistle Blower Act.
I listened intently to the discussion, and it became apparent that this citizen board was going to enforce the citation and not allow this couple to keep the homemade monument to their son. This was on land that these people had owned and maintained for years. A neighbor spoke up and explained that it was not a problem and to please let them keep it there. At the point that I felt a bad decision was about to be handed down, I asked if I could speak. They said yes.
I explained that I had listened to the entire discussion, and wanted to know if the members of the board were going to vote to leave it alone and allow them to keep it. I got no answer and so I asked who would be harmed if they were allowed to leave it. I again got no answer. I said “that is the critical question here” — if no one would be harmed, please let them have it as it is. They are citizens of Trempealeau County, they own the land, and they pay the tax on it. The Pledge of Allegiance says “with Liberty and Justice for All,” and it is time for justice.
They voted to allow them to keep the monument! When it was over the Land Management Director told the Board of Adjustment that these people created this problem on their own, and the BOA will need to stick to the rules in the future or possibly face a court battle. The idea that a government official would stress that makes me ill. I have ruffled some feathers during the time I have been on the County Board, but I will never vote to allow people’s Constitutional rights to be denied. I do understand bureaucracy, and bureaucratic rules, but government needs to work for the people, not against them.
I urge you to vote for people who will defend your property rights. When your property rights are gone, your liberty and your children’s liberty will also be gone.