Category Archives: Deindustrialization

Couple faces $97K in fines for using their own driveway

is this america
A sign at the entrance to PennyRoyal Self Storage. Howard and Lisa Gray had permission to use their residential driveway in Warren County to get to garages and storage facilities on the Montgomery County portion of their land….Still the couple is facing contempt of court charges and civil fines for the third time in a five-year dispute over continued access with Clearcreek Township officials, responding to complaints from neighbors. Image: Jim Witmer

middletownjournal.com | Dec 1, 2012

By Lawrence Budd

CLEARCREEK TWP., Warren County — The six-year dispute between Clearcreek Twp. and Howard and Lisa Gray shows just how complicated, combative and costly local land use issues can become.

The Grays obtained permission from a Clearcreek Twp. official to use their residential driveway in Warren County to get to buildings on the Montgomery County portion of their land. The buildings house the Grays’ storage and landscaping businesses.

But following complaints from neighbors, Clearkcreek Twp. ordered the couple to stop using the driveway to access their commercial area. A judge subsequently issued an order to that effect.

The Grays say they have no other feasible way to get to that land, and they now face contempt of court charges and nearly $100,000 in potential fines for resisting court orders.

“We are just confounded,” Lisa Gray said. “I am just very saddened.”

Said attorney Jill Mead in a court filing Monday on behalf of Clearcreek Twp.: “We realize that, several years ago, (the Grays) were given bad advice. That in no way excuses their current behavior, which is to continuously ignore and, in fact, thumb their noses at the court’s orders.”

gray_area1
Michael and Howard Gray stand in front of a sign prohibiting the use of their driveway to get to to garages and storage buildings on a section of their land in Montgomery County. Lawrence Budd

The dispute

The Grays live at 2248 Pennyroyal Road, west of Ohio 741 on the extreme northern edge of Warren County in Clearcreek Twp., a traditionally rural community where home-based businesses are common and generally accepted. Their commercial land in Montgomery County’s Miami Twp. is just inside a special commercial zone established in anticipation of development around the new Interstate 75 interchange at Austin Boulevard.

Homes, some on multi-acre lots, surround the Grays’ land on the east, south and west. Commercial properties and a church border the Grays’ land to the north.

In 2004, the Grays say they invested about $300,000 in the garages and storage buildings on about three acres of their land in Montgomery County after receiving assurance from Clearcreek Twp. Planning and Zoning Director Jeff Palmer that access would be permitted via the long driveway leading off Pennyroyal Road to their home.

In 2006, after complaints from neighbors about noise, dirt and traffic, the township notified the Grays they would have to quit using the driveway to get to their commercial buildings. The Grays had added a landscaping business, worsening traffic and noise problems, according to the township.

During this time, the township’s population exploded, doubling to nearly 40,000 residents between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census.

In 2009, the township filed a lawsuit in Warren County, asking the court to deny the Grays access to their Montgomery County land via the driveway.

The township determined the Grays’ businesses failed to qualify as a home business in part because equipment involved in the business is stored outside the Gray’s home, one of two residences on the couple’s Warren County land, Mead said.

“The township’s policy is that legitimate home occupations are acceptable. If a commercial enterprise is being run on a residential property and does not qualify as a home occupation, it is unacceptable. Generally speaking, the township responds to complaints,” Mead said in an email.

Since 2005 Clearcreek Twp. officials have responded to 18 inquires about business operations in residential areas, according to township records.

Disputes goes to court

The Grays continued to use the driveway and filed counterclaims against Palmer and the township. They also failed to fully comply with orders issued by Warren County Common Pleas Judge James Flannery.

With reservations, Flannery issued the first in a series of rulings last year that prohibited the Grays from accessing their commercial property via the driveway. Flannery also rejected the Grays’ request for compensation for loss of the driveway’s use.

“If the court had equitable power to grant the relief sought by the Grays, it would do so. However, the court has taken an oath to enforce the law as written and not to legislate different results based solely on sympathy towards the affected parties,” Flannery wrote in a March 2011 ruling.

Flannery ruled the Grays were not entitled to compensation because they sought, but were denied, a variance by the township zoning board to continue using the driveway.

Orders call for the Grays to pay for a fence and entry system controlling access to the Montgomery County tract and assist the township in moving out about 50 storage tenants.

The judge also ordered the Grays to take down a sign advertising the storage business. The Grays complied, but installed another sign in protest.

“Is this America? Clearcreek Twp. and their courts have closed our family business after they approved it six years ago. Our American Dream has been turned into an American Red Tape Nightmare,” the sign reads.

Instead of paying the township to hire a contractor to build the fence, Howard Gray hired his own contractor.

“What’s the difference on the fence? It’s going to be locked,” he said.

Since then, Flannery and lawyers for the township and the Grays have worked out agreements to close the driveway at the Montgomery County line and clear the storage units. Still, the Grays are resisting in word and deed.

“I’ve been here since 2004,” Gray said. “They’re actually taking my land.”

The Grays could access the property by negotiating an easement or purchasing land from private landowners on the Montgomery County side, but an agreement seems unlikely due to the distance to a road.

The Grays’ lawyer, Andrew George, said the Grays deserve compensation.

“All of this stems from a government mistake. It’s up to the government to fix that,” George said.

Possible fines, costs

This week, Mead urged Flannery to find the Grays in contempt of court, which could trigger as much as $97,000 in fines.

Mead is the third lawyer to represent the township and Palmer in the dispute. Mead took the case in July and has billed the township $7,500 through Nov. 6. County prosecutors and lawyers retained through township insurance provided other representation at no additional charge.

If they comply, the Grays are expected to cover most or all of Mead’s fees, the cost of the fence and other expenses. Those costs total more than $13,000.

No hearing has been scheduled on the township’s contempt-of-court request against the Grays.

Climate Change ‘wise men’ push for less meat, more nukes and power cuts

Register | May 9, 2011

By Andrew Orlowski

When we last met the Climate Change Committee – the statutory advisory body of “wise men” that makes global warming policy recommendations for the UK – they were urging politicians to make red meat an expensive luxury. If beef or lamb were as expensive as truffles are today, they suggested, we could save the planet from runaway global warming. This time, they’re back to report on energy, with a particularly rosy set of numbers that doesn’t quite add up.

Some of the recommendations will make Greens feel uncomfortable – particularly those Greens with a financial or emotional attachment to wind power. But the Puritan agenda we saw before remains. To make energy supply and demand meet, the “wise men” note, there will have to be power cuts.

“There is an issue about how the system copes with intermittent renewables (ie, keeping the lights on when the wind does not blow). Our analysis suggests, however, that a high level of intermittent renewable generation is technically feasible, as long as options for providing system flexibility are fully deployed.”

This isn’t some paranoid fantasy from a lone blogger. The elites have already been softening up the population to prepare for cuts for some time.

“We need to balance demand for energy with supply,” says Steve Halliday, CEO of the National Grid. “That gets into smart metering, so if we need to interrupt power supply for a few hours during the day when you’re not at home that’s okay,” he told The Telegraph last year

In a a recent speech, Halliday said: “We are headed for a greater diversity in electricity generation coming from a much greater geographic spread. We have to plan for flexibility in the system to manage more intermittent energy flows because a large share of our energy will rely on when and where the wind blows.”

But what the Climate Change Committee delivers is that rarest of things: a cost-benefit analysis of low-carbon energy production. And as in any cost-benefit analysis, the expensive, inefficient technologies such as wind power come out very poorly.

“Nuclear appears likely to be the lowest-cost low-carbon technology with significant potential for increased deployment; it is likely to be cost-competitive with gas CCGT at a £30/tCO2 carbon price in 2020. As such, it should play a major role in decarbonisation, provided that safety concerns are addressed,” they recommend.

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EU to ban cars from cities by 2050


Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of ‘zero’ for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities Photo: ALAMY

Cars will be banned from London and all other cities across Europe under a draconian EU masterplan to cut CO2 emissions by 60 per cent over the next 40 years.

Telegraph | Mar 28, 2011

By Bruno Waterfield, Brussels

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.

“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”

The Association of British Drivers rejected the proposal to ban cars as economically disastrous and as a “crazy” restriction on mobility.

“I suggest that he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum,” said Hugh Bladon, a spokesman for the BDA.

“If he wants to bring everywhere to a grinding halt and to plunge us into a new dark age, he is on the right track. We have to keep things moving. The man is off his rocker.”

Mr Kallas has denied that the EU plan to cut car use by half over the next 20 years, before a total ban in 2050, will limit personal mobility or reduce Europe’s economic competitiveness.

“Curbing mobility is not an option, neither is business as usual. We can break the transport system’s dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility. It can be win-win,” he claimed.

Christopher Monckton, Ukip’s transport spokesman said: “The EU must be living in an alternate reality, where they can spend trillions and ban people from their cars.

“This sort of greenwashing grandstanding adds nothing and merely highlights their grandiose ambitions.”

Report calls for radical redesign of cities to cope with population growth


‘Planned-opolis’ – just one of four scenarios of future cities envisaged by Forum for the Future in its Megacities on the Move report

Megacities on the Move report says authorities must start planning their transport infrastructure now for a future when two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities

guardian.co.uk | Dec 2, 2010

Alok Jha, science correspondent

Megacities on the Move report says authorities must start planning their transport infrastructure now for a future when two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities

Moving away from car ownership, using real-time traffic information to help plan journeys and having more virtual meetings will be vital to prevent the megacities of the future from becoming dysfunctional and unpleasant places to live, according to a study by the environmental think tank Forum for the Future.

The report argues that authorities must begin to plan now in order to create easier and more sustainable ways of accessing goods and services in the world’s ever-growing cities. Citizens must also be encouraged to change their behaviour to keep cities liveable.

By 2040, the world’s urban population is expected to have grown from 3.5bn to 5.6bn. The new report calls for a radical re-engineering of cities’ infrastructure to cope. “The future is going to look pretty urban … with more and more people shifting to cities to the point that, by 2040, we’re going to have two thirds of all the people in the world living in cities,” said Ivana Gazibara, senior strategic adviser at Forum for the Future and an author of the report, Megacities on the Move.

“If we go on with business as usual, what happens is unmanageable levels of congestion because personal car ownership has proliferated,” she said. “Cities could be a pretty nasty place to live for the two-thirds of the global population in the next 30 years if we don’t act on things like climate change mitigation and adaptation, smarter use of resources and sorting out big systemic things like urban mobility.”

The report looked at transport, but not just moving from A to B. “It’s about accessibility and productivity and interaction,” said Gazibara. “Those are things you can do through physical interaction but you don’t have to..”

One issue is to integrate different modes of transport: citizens will want to walk, cycle, access public transport, drive personal vehicles or a mixture of all modes in one journey. “Information technology is going to be incredibly important in all of this, in terms of better integrating and connecting physical modes of transport,” said Gazibara. “But we’re also going to see lots more user-centred ICT [information and communication technology] so it makes it easier for us to access things virtually.”

She said there are already cars that have integrated hardware allowing them to communicate with each other and central traffic hubs. By collecting and centralising information of this kind, city authorities could manage traffic information in real time and help speed up people’s journeys. And better “telepresence” systems for virtual meetings could remove the need for some journeys altogether.

The trickiest part, though, could be getting citizens themselves to take part. “We have the technological solutions, whether it’s alternative drive-trains for vehicles or sophisticated IT – the real challenge will be scaling it in a meaningful way,” said Gazibara.

City planning will also be important, she said, creating self-contained neighbourhoods where everything is accessible by walking or cycling.

The report also highlights examples of good practice that are already in use. Vancouver, for example, has recognised that many of its inhabitants will use several modes of transport in one journey, so city planners have widened pedestrian crossings, built more cycle lanes and provided cycle racks on buses.

For the future, Gazibara pointed to innovative car-sharing schemes such as the CityCar concept, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with “stackable” electric cars lined up near transport hubs. These could be rented out for short journeys within city limits. They could also store power at night, when renewable sources might be generating electricity that would otherwise have to be dumped.

Friends of the Earth transport campaigner Richard Dyer agreed that action was needed now to make cities more sustainable. “Tackling climate change must be at the heart of building a greener, fairer future – and local people must have their say. New technologies will be part of the solution, but rising populations and the urgent need to cut carbon emissions mean that we also need policies that reduce the need to travel, cut car use and make walking and cycling the first choice for short journeys. Alongside green energy and better insulation for our homes, this will make our cities healthier, more pleasant and vibrant places to live – and will create new jobs too.”

Gazibara said city authorities needed to start taking the issues more seriously. “[There are] far too many places where cities that are acknowledging climate change as a threat continue to build more roads, continue to provide incentives to more car ownership and more driving. That’s something that will fundamentally need to change.”

Why is Greenland so rich these days? It said goodbye to the EU


Britain used to have 80 per cent of European fish stocks (Photo: PA)

blogs.telegraph.co.uk | Nov 28, 2010

By Alex Singleton

If you think that leaving the EU would be catastrophic, take a look at Greenland. By rights its people ought to be poor. Their island is isolated, suffers from freezing weather, has a workforce of only 28,000 and relies on fish for 82 per cent of its exports. But it turns out that since leaving the EU, Greenland has been so freed of EU red tape and of the destruction of the Common Fisheries Policy, that the average income of the islanders today is higher than those living in Britain, Germany and France.

Greenland’s politicians realised that the fisheries policy was ruining their fishing industry. They had the guts to stand up against the all the prophets of doom and let their people vote in a referendum on leaving the European Community, as the EU was then called. On January 1, 1985, it became independent of Brussels – the only country ever to do so.

Greenland was, with Britain, one of only two EU countries to be heavily dependent on fishing. In fact, Britain had, in some estimates, 80 per cent of Europe’s fish stocks when it entered the EU, because our fishermen had carefully managed them, while the fisherman of Spain, France and Italy had destroyed most of the Mediterranean stocks.

The surprising thing is that while the unemployment from closing (loss-making) coal mines is frequently denounced by Labour politicians, more British workers lost their jobs as a result of gigantic French and Spanish boats being permitted to raid our stocks. Few of those politicians seem to care.

But care they should, because it is not just fish where the EU is damaging us, but in financial services, manufacturing – indeed, its ever-increasing regulations impose unnecessary costs across the whole of our economy. Greenland, which retains free trade with the EU, shows that we can have the benefits of European exports, without the costs of its diktats. It’s surely time that we, too, said goodbye to Brussels.

Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in developed world


‘The Second World War and the concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face’ Photo: GETTY

Global warming is now such a serious threat to mankind that climate change experts are calling for Second World War-style rationing in rich countries to bring down carbon emissions.

Telegraph | Nov 29, 2010

By Louise Gray

In a series of papers published by the Royal Society, physicists and chemists from some of world’s most respected scientific institutions, including Oxford University and the Met Office, agreed that current plans to tackle global warming are not enough.

Unless emissions are reduced dramatically in the next ten years the world is set to see temperatures rise by more than 4C (7.2F) by as early as the 2060s, causing floods, droughts and mass migration.

As the world meets in Cancun, Mexico for the latest round of United Nations talks on climate change, the influential academics called for much tougher measures to cut carbon emissions.

In one paper Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said the only way to reduce global emissions enough, while allowing the poor nations to continue to grow, is to halt economic growth in the rich world over the next twenty years.

This would mean a drastic change in lifestyles for many people in countries like Britain as everyone will have to buy less ‘carbon intensive’ goods and services such as long haul flights and fuel hungry cars.

Prof Anderson admitted it “would not be easy” to persuade people to reduce their consumption of goods

He said politicians should consider a rationing system similar to the one introduced during the last “time of crisis” in the 1930s and 40s.

This could mean a limit on electricity so people are forced to turn the heating down, turn off the lights and replace old electrical goods like huge fridges with more efficient models. Food that has travelled from abroad may be limited and goods that require a lot of energy to manufacture.

“The Second World War and the concept of rationing is something we need to seriously consider if we are to address the scale of the problem we face,” he said.

Prof Anderson insisted that halting growth in the rich world does not necessarily mean a recession or a worse lifestyle, it just means making adjustments in everyday life such as using public transport and wearing a sweater rather than turning on the heating.

“I am not saying we have to go back to living in caves,” he said. “Our emissions were a lot less ten years ago and we got by ok then.”

The last round of talks in Copenhagen last year ended in a weak political accord to keep temperature rise below the dangerous tipping point of 2C(3.6F).

This time 194 countries are meeting again to try and make the deal legally binding and agree targets on cutting emissions.

At the moment efforts are focused on trying to get countries to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2050 relative to 1990 levels.

But Dr Myles Allen, of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, said this might not be enough. He said that if emissions do not come down quick enough even a slight change in temperature will be too rapid for ecosystems to keep up. Also by measuring emissions relative to a particular baseline, rather than putting a limit on the total amount that can ever be pumped into the atmosphere, there is a danger that the limit is exceeded.

“Peak warming is determined by the total amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere, not the rate we release it in any given year,’ he said. “Dangerous climate change, however, also depends on how fast the planet is warming up, not just how hot it gets, and the maximum rate of warming does depend on the maximum emission rate. It’s not just how much we emit, but how fast we do so.”

Other papers published on ‘4C and beyond’ in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A warned of rising sea levels, droughts in river basins and mass migrations.

Recession may have pushed US birth rate to new record low

AP | Aug 27, 2010

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE

Forget the Dow and the GDP. Here’s the latest economic indicator: The U.S. birth rate has fallen to its lowest level in at least a century as many people apparently decided they couldn’t afford more mouths to feed.

The birth rate dropped for the second year in a row since the recession began in 2007. Births fell 2.6 percent last year even as the population grew, numbers released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics show.

“It’s a good-sized decline for one year. Every month is showing a decline from the year before,” said Stephanie Ventura, the demographer who oversaw the report.

The birth rate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That’s down from 14.3 in 2007 and way down from 30 in 1909, when it was common for people to have big families.

The situation is a striking turnabout from 2007, when more babies were born in the United States than any other year in the nation’s history. The recession began that fall, dragging down stocks, jobs and births.

“When the economy is bad and people are uncomfortable about their financial future, they tend to postpone having children. We saw that in the Great Depression the 1930s and we’re seeing that in the Great Recession today,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University.

“It could take a few years to turn this around,” he added.

The birth rate dipped below 20 per 1,000 people in 1932 and did not rise above that level until the early 1940s. Recent recessions, in 1981-82, 1990-91 and 2001, all were followed by small dips in the birth rate, according to CDC figures.

The Great Recession “is definitely a deterrent” to people having more children, said Dr. Michael Cabbad, chief of maternal health at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, where births declined from about 2,800 in 2008 to about 2,500 last year.

Even Cabbad’s son said he’d like to have more children “if his business plan works out.”

Nearly half of low- and middle-income women surveyed a year ago by the Guttmacher Institute said they wanted to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they have because of money concerns. Half of those women also said the recession made them more focused on contraceptive use. Guttmacher researches reproductive health issues.

Besides finances, experts said a decline in immigration to the United States also may be pushing births down.

The downward trend invites worrisome comparisons to Japan and its “lost decade” of economic stagnation in the 1990s, which was accompanied by very low birth rates. Births in Japan fell 2 percent in 2009 after a slight rise in 2008.

Not so in Britain, where the population took its biggest jump in almost half a century last year and the fertility rate is at its highest level since 1973. France’s birth rate also has been rising; Germany’s birth rate is lower but rising as well.

Cherlin said the U.S. birth rate “is still higher than the birth rate in many wealthy countries and we also have many immigrants entering the country. So we do not need to be worried yet about a birth dearth” that would crimp the nation’s ability to take care of its growing elderly population.

The new U.S. report is a rough count of births from states. It estimates there were 4,136,000 births in 2009, down from a year ago’s estimate of 4,247,000 in 2008 and more than 4.3 million in 2007.

The report does not give details on trends in different age groups. That will come next spring and will give a clearer picture who is and is not having children, Ventura said.

Last spring’s report, on births in 2008, showed an overall drop but a surprising rise in births to women over 40, who may have felt they were running out of time to have children and didn’t want to delay despite the bad economy.

Women who postpone having children because of careers also may find they have trouble conceiving, said Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based demographic research group.

“For some of those women, they’re going to find themselves in their mid-40s where it’s going to be hard to have the number of children they want,” he said.

Heather Atherton is nearing that mark. The Sacramento, Calif., mom, who turns 36 next month, started a home-based public relations business after her daughter was born in 2003. She and her husband upgraded to a larger home in 2005 and planned on having a second child not long afterward. Then the recession hit, drying up her husband’s sales commissions and leaving them owing more on their home than it is worth. A second child seemed too risky financially.

“However, we just recently decided that it’s time to stop waiting and just go for it early next year and let the chips fall where they may,” she said. “We can’t allow the recession to dictate the size of our family. We just need to move forward with our lives.”