You CAN Fight City Hall
To falconfield, one, and others that may have interest………
Thought that this might be interest.....
See the emails and newspaper article below. They show
that one can actually fight city hall successfully.
I fought the Town of Ipswich for almost 4 years. I constructed
A single family home and two additions, four outbuildings, and
two waste water system without a permit.
The town administrators have never entered my property
since the original trespass and warning to them.
The court (after 16 months & three attempts) refused to rule on
the question of jurisdiction that I brought up and stuck with
throughout the entire affair in my case because the court feared
setting a precedent that would open the floodgates to other
homeowner's following my lead.
Most recently, when I sold my house, both the health agent and
fire chief signed the necessary paperwork without entering my
property to make the inspections. In fact, they told my realtor
that they would not enter my proeprty for any reason beacuse
they knew I did not allow town agents on my private property.
My friend (a bank appraiser in the area) visits the town hall very
regularly and now that I've moved I'm the talk of the town. They
admit that they feared my next move (legal action or ?) and none
of them had any desire to be involved we me in any offical capacity.
A couple of the more honest ones admitted to my friend that they
admired my courage to take a stance against too much regualtion
and against the overwhelming odds of a single land owner fighting
the whole town machine.
Subject: Ipswich Man Stands Off Town Administrators
Folks, I'm involved in a situation with the local town
(actors) administrators. We went to housing court
last week and the judge ruled against me on every
legal point and gave the town an order (CMR 105,
Massachusetts) to enter my private property.
My research and investigation of CMR 105 has
revealed that the housing court has no authority
to issue this order.
Secondly, CMR 105 does not pertain to private
households but rather to elderly housing, nursing
homes, etc. Because of this I knew that neither the town nor the court had any jurisdiction and so I dishonored their court
order and kept them off of the private property.
The Salem News
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
By STEVE LANDWEHR
IPSWICH -- An Ipswich man refused to allow local building inspectors onto his property Monday, leading to a brief armed standoff between the parties.
Building Inspector Jim Sperber, who went to 6 Mill Road to investigate possible illegal construction on the property, was greeted by homeowner, Rider, and another unidentified man carrying handguns.
Although other unidentified people also appeared to be armed, Sperber said no one was ever threatened and guns were never pointed at anyone.
Sperber went to homeowner to enforce an order from the Lawrence Housing Court, which alleges to give him authority to inspect the premises for possible code violations. [Homeowner] refused to allow inspectors onto his property where he lives with his wife.
"They didn't believe the court order was valid," Sperber said.
The stalemate lasted about 20 minutes, after which Sperber and his party left.
[Homowner] said yesterday the confrontation wasn't about any animosity toward Sperber or anyone else. In fact, he said, he has no interest in "creating a hassle for the town." But he is willing to take his fight to the highest court in the land, if necessary, to protect what he believes to be his constitutional protected private property rights.
In fact, [homeowner] thinks that if any laws have been broken, it was the town that did so. He has filed a counterclaim asking for $10,000 in damages. Among other things, [homeowner] claims his civil and constitutional rights have been violated and his character defamed.
[Homeowner] just doesn't believe Sperber or any other town officials have the right to control any non-commercial activity that he undertakes on his own private property or even come on his property to examine it.
"I don't believe I'm skirting the law," [homeowner] said. "It's just the principle of private property and the rights to privacy that go along with it."
That's not how Sperber sees it. He believes [homeowner] could be building an unauthorized addition to the house, and at the very least, the plumbing, gas and wiring inspectors should be allowed to scrutinize [homeowner's] work. In any case, he says, the law is the law, and performing work on a home without the proper permits is illegal.
"I'm not entirely unsympathetic with his [homeowner's] point of view," Sperber said. "But I have a job to do."
The dispute goes back many months, when Sperber was checking out a complaint in the neighborhood, one that didn't even involve the [homeowners].
"The ironic thing is we weren't even looking at this property," Sperber said.
But he noticed what he believed to be obvious signs that construction was going on at the 6 Mill Road, property without the benefit of permits. After seeing evidence of "replacing or altering some exterior decks and balconies and new electrical wiring," Sperber left a handwritten note on the [homeowners'] door telling them to immediately stop the work if they had no permits.
In his written response, [homeowner] asserted that building codes don't apply to private homeowners, so Sperber had no authority to stop the work. Construction continued despite multiple cease and desist orders and the homeowner is still working regularly now. Not only that but the [homeowner] wrote, Sperber was illegally trespassing on his property in his attempts to take a look at what was going on there and the homeowner stated that he would take legal action to prevent Sperber from furthur trespass.
"It's the most bizarre response I've ever had from a homeowner," Sperber said.
[Homeowner] says his behavior may be unusual, but it's not bizarre at all. [Homeowner] asserts that administrative laws, the rules and regulations adopted by government agencies - such as the building inspector - do not apply to any private activity.
"If you stop and think about it, building codes are for public safety," he said. "If someone falls on my property are they going to sue the town? No. They're going to sue me. That being the case building codes are unnecessary for private property not open to the public. Supreme court cites in 1999 and 2000 reflect this"
His property is not only private, [homeowner] said, he has posted "No trespassing" signs on his land. He also believes there is legal precedent for his actions, and said he's prepared to defend his position, "in every court that will hear me, no matter what the cost."
Police Chief Charles Surpitski said yesterday that although two officers accompanied Bldg Insp Sperber and the other town officials to [homeowner's] home, they were only along to keep the peace. When asked about a warrant they responded negative, when told to leave the property because of no warrant they exited the property immediatley and waited at the property line. The situation is now a matter for Bldg Insp Sperber to deal with Surpitski said.
"They (the homeowners) were exercising what they feel to be their rights, and we respected that," Surpitski said.
Town Manager George Howe said that the matter had been turned over to the town's legal representatives for recommendations.
"We're responding with all due reasonable care," Howe said.
Homeowner said he knows he's not likely to make friends, but he's ready for a battle.
"The town may hate me, but they'll have to hear me," Rider said. "They (the town) have a long hard battle ahead of them whether they know it or not. I will not give up or give in because I stand on my principles and my right to privacy."