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Front Page » August 1, 2006 » Opinion » Letter to the Editor: Disappointed with city council
Published 2,816 days ago

Letter to the Editor: Disappointed with city council


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By SUSAN PRAAST
Emery

Editor,

At the July Orangeville City Council meeting, those present were told by the elected officials to speak to them prior to writing a letter to the editor so as not to have the whole county down on them again. I checked and I still live in America and my choice is to write a letter to the editor first since nothing worthwhile seems to get accomplished by speaking to the mayor or council members.

I have been following the issue of the two tree houses/forts/accessory structures that the Orangeville City Council has mandated must be torn down because they do not meet zoning ordinances.

I was appalled at the behavior and antics of Orangeville's elected and appointed officials at the July city council meeting. Is it really OK to tell your constituents to "shut up and sit down?" The dignity and respect that one would expect to have extended to them at a council meeting was sorely lacking.

An Orangeville resident presented a very concrete case with documentation straight from the city's ordinances that proved the tree fort that he and his sons built in their backyard is not in violation of any zoning law or ordinance. The council went in circles, contradicted itself numerous times and even went so far as to forbid this resident from weatherproofing the wood. The three sons of this resident worked to earn money, saved their money, threw in birthday money and contributed their all to the building of their tree fort.

Anyone who has taken the time to inspect the tree fort would have to admit it looks like a tree fort, sits in the tree like a tree fort and acts like a tree fort and in no stretch of the imagination does it even slightly resemble and accessory structure. It is sturdy, safe, well constructed, attractive and hidden in a small cluster of large trees in the backyard...a child's dream. What, indeed, is an accessory structure? Tool shed, dog house, garage, garden bench, water faucet, outhouse?

I recently learned that this resident has received a citation from the town council ordering him to tear the tree fort down. The council still has not been able to decide which side of his home is the front and which is the back so they have declared that his home has two front yards, all in an effort to place the tree fort anywhere but where it is, in the backyard.

My first question is: what is to be gained by the city council in their seemingly intense need to be right, to be in control, to exercise power? When it is all said and done, the only thing accomplished will be a destroyed childhood dream of three little boys. Did not any one of them have a childhood tree house or fort or were they only allowed accessory structures in which to play?

My second question is: why did the city council wait until the tree fort was completely erected before informing the resident there was a problem? I know Orangeville and I know nothing goes unnoticed. The delay in informing him seems childishly spiteful and vindictive. Is there more at issue here than a child's tree fort?

My third question is: has any consideration been given to amending the ordinance or zoning law to allow the residents of Orangeville a fraction of freedom to decide what color their dog house will be, or is the only goal to win?

Our government, be it local, state or federal, is "of the people, by the people, for the people." How many Orangeville residents support the current nitpicking, dictatorial form of representation they now suffer under? Do you, as taxpayers, really want your money spent on such ridiculously frivolous issues? Are you aware that in Orangeville you cannot build a dog house without council approval? Isn't there anything else of true importance that warrants the attention of your mayor and city council? Do you not think the issue is worthy of attention and input? When was the last time your child was allowed to pray in school? It's time to stand up and speak up. Your accessory structure could be next.

The cost of the tree fort-$500. The cost of a child's dream-priceless.


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