Taking On The Planners

When I lived in Central Oregon I did a summer internship at a Planning Agency in a small town. It was one of those places where a big company would get huge tax breaks to locate there. They’d bring in their own people to do most of the jobs.  But to provide local jobs, they’d hire the Mayor’s cousin to be the janitor.

Anyways, the real action came when our Planning Department interacted with local citizens. Most of the people in the town knew each other. And government wasn’t highly-valued — we were mostly the enemy of freedom and progress. I felt for our Senior Planner — many of his days were like being at a wedding where he had to tell a relative to slow down on the drinking.

One day a rancher huffed into the Senior Planner’s office. He barged into the room and started barking about being denied a permit for an addition to his barn. The exchange went like this:

“Bob, I can’t approve your addition. You gotta take it down. That’s a deck.”

The Senior Planner held up an aerial photo. It showed a barn. On the back of the barn was a porch with a railing. It was probably ten feet off the ground. It covered the back of the structure and wrapped around one one side. And there was something that looked a lot like a BBQ grill.

“That,” the rancher replied, tapping on the photo, “is a feeding area.”

The planner furrowed his brow. He stared up at the rancher and said “It’s on the second floor. What, do the animals walk upstairs to eat?”

The rancher paused for a moment. And then with a straight face said “Yes, they do.”

I thought of that after seeing this photo:


If you’re gonna successfully break the law, you’ve got to get really creative.

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6 thoughts on “Taking On The Planners”

  1. A great story. You won’t be surprised to hear that stable owners spend half their time quibbling with everyone from the DNR to city planners. It’s usually about manure, so my friends turned their stable manure into a compost industry and sold it to the local garden center. Take that you city planners! Ha!

  2. Frankly, I don’t understand the objections to improving one’s property, barn or not. It’s one thing to build a six story condo, and another to build a deck. In keeping with the livestock them, what would officials be without their petty powers and private feedbags?

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