Letter to the Editor: Reader disagrees with order denying access to non-resident property owners

Published 10:28 am Sunday, March 29, 2020

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To the Editor:

I was surprised to hear of the recent decision by Dare County to deny access to “non-resident” property owners. This is a clear infringement of these property owners’ personal and property rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and long-established case law. EVEN IF the current Covid-19 emergency constitutes a sufficient need for such restrictions “in the public interest,” the “Takings Clause” of the Fifth Amendment requires that property owners receive “just compensation.” Just compensation in this case is easily established by the fair market rental value of the property, regardless of whether the property is a rental property.

I was doubly surprised to hear of at least one petition being circulated by residents in support of this restriction, especially where the petitioners are historically vocal proponents of their own rights under the Second Amendment. I wonder how many would have signed if the petition also included a restriction on possession of a firearm during the duration of the travel ban, in the interest of “public safety.”

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While I recognize that many of us are afraid for ourselves and our families during the current Covid-19 emergency, it is especially during such times of crisis that we must be vigilant in preservation of our rights and guard against governmental overreach. I therefore call upon the Dare County commissioners to immediately rescind the travel ban. Barring that, that Dare County compensate non-resident property owners by paying the fair market rental value for the duration of the ban. One way to provide this just compensation might be through a special assessment on “resident” property owners, as well as those “resident non-property owners” who support the ban.

Paul Rettinger