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Article published June 12, 2013
Alberta Slater Muddy Creek Township
Recently Frank Monteleone wrote a hard-hitting letter regarding bullying by government, and his point was very well taken. Although I am not familiar with those exact circumstances in Slippery Rock, we in Muddy Creek Township are also being bullied by the supervisors, solicitor and secretary. They promote proposed ordinance No. 67, which would require permits for repair or alteration of all agricultural buildings, historical buildings, decks, cabins and miscellaneous structures. The proposed action sics the assessment office on those who have to repair damaged buildings. It’s pure and simple bullying; calling in Big Brother, or taking police state action against taxpayers, landowners, longtime township residents so the township doesn’t have to answer phone calls regarding who needs permits or who doesn’t. This way, a secretary can tell everybody the ordinances say everybody has to have a permit. If a permit is not or cannot be obtained because it is Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Tuesday or it is past 4 p.m., then you would be fined $500 to $1,000 a day. Supposedly this is a summary offense, yet the township is taking action using a first-degree summary fine and has not even considered summary offenses can be fined at $25 for a summary offense eighth-degree, or seventh-degree at $75. Even a second-degree offense is $300 to $800. If anyone takes note of Butler County courts as they recently impose fines, you will note that many are only for one $500 fine and their offenses were more criminal in nature, like slashing tires, breaking and entering, purse stealing, or even stealing copper wiring. Nothing as “criminal” as failing to get a township permit before making needed repairs. Many township residents engaged in agriculture pursuits are enjoined under the Agriculture Security Areas Act, and we were promised there could not be any nuisance ordinance capabilities under this act. But to me, this is definitely a nuisance ordinance. Cattle can break through doors, demolish stalls, jump through windows and force entry into outbuildings. Storms can lift roofs. Hail can damage storage areas. Latches have to be repaired or things rebuilt to contain many forms of agriculture machinery, crops, or livestock. Yet this is in violation of this proposed nuisance ordinance. Our township is punishing those who have been a victim of weather, animal behavior or just regular wear-and-tear. Where is the common sense in those who don’t have much at stake, yet have government positions of bullying the longtime township landowner and taxpayer? We are not criminals and should not be treated as such.