Manassas Journal Messenger | County cannot arbitrarily lock out targeted businesses

I haven’t chimed in on the adult business debate that has been going on over the past couple of months, but I can’t resist putting in my two cents after reading Hector Quintana’s letter to the editor on Wednesday.

When it comes to issues such as this I always face a bit of a conundrum. As a Christian I oppose such establishments, but as a Libertarian I understand that it is wrong for government to play the role of moral arbiter. I take some solace in a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who said: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Our country was founded by Christians who understood that the surest way for a government to become oppressive to society was to allow law based not on fundamental rights but on arbitrary and subjective beliefs. If you want some evidence of the consequences of government imposing the moral beliefs of its representatives on citizens go ask an Afghani about the Taliban.

Instead of running to the government to ban establishments that sell porn, citizens should take the responsibility of ensuring that they are not welcomed into particular communities. If the owner of an “adult book store” knows that business will be significantly impacted by protests and negative media coverage, then he will find another place to locate.

On his point regarding the $400 application fee, Mr. Quintana uses an imperfect analogy when comparing it to the fees paid by developers and builders. A more accurate analogy would have been to compare the fees paid by other retail establishments such as video clubs or clothing stores. The only reason a fee should be levied is to offset the cost incurred by government to properly regulate those businesses.

Disregarding the fact that businesses are excessively regulated in the first place, one cannot help but see that the fee is nothing more than a barrier (albeit a small one) to entrance into the marketplace. The question has been asked – and rightly so – what might be the next business to find itself in the scope of supervisors who don’t agree with the values of a particular business owner? Perhaps a new age store, or lingerie shop, or palm reader. Fees should remain fair and impartial.

Mr. Quintana, who as a member of the Prince William County Planning Commission, should also know better than to state that thousands or millions of dollars paid by builders and developers is “for the pleasure of building the homes, offices and retail centers we all need and enjoy.”

Proffers are intended to offset cost of the impact of new construction that would otherwise be incurred by current citizens. In years past this would have been easily (and much more slowly) absorbed through the natural growth of housing as it extended further out from a city. Thirty years ago if someone wanted to build a home out on his property in the middle of nowhere he was allowed to ? knowing that if a fire started it would be lost, and he would be responsible for obtaining his own electricity and water as well as disposal of his own sewage.

These days a developer who buys a huge plot of land with the intention of slamming a 1,500-home community in the middle of nowhere shouldn’t expect services such as fire and rescue, schools and roads to be the burden of current residents. The cost of these proffers will be passed on to the new home owner, but that is a necessity due to poor government planning and the demands of the new homeowners for such services.

Not to mention the fact that citizens used to let the free market provide for amenities such as golf courses and swimming pools. When these are provided by the government then we all take a hit in the wallet, whether or not we use the facilities.

Mr. Quintana correctly points out that video surveillance is omnipresent; however those cameras are owned and operated by businesses for private security use. The cameras that the board of supervisors were to require would be used for nothing more than a way to harass and discourage potential customers by allowing government employees to review them at any time without a court ordered warrant.

If a camera was placed right above the condom display in a grocery store it would probably discourage some folks, especially single women, from wanting to purchase them – especially if they knew that the police could request to review the tapes at any time. And while a Catholic may be inclined to say “those folks may want to give such actions a second thought,” it is not the responsibility of the government to discourage such actions.

Mr. Quintana’s final point that “The BOCS [Board of County Supervisors] further acted to ensure that an industry that in some locales has a less than reputable aura is not being run by convicted felons” is also rather disappointing. A prison sentence, once served, should not be used to inhibit an individual from resuming normal affairs in a society. If someone is still dangerous they should remain locked up. However, once they have served the time required by society for their crime, all rights should be restored including those of voting and self-defense.

Again, the rule of law should be universally applied – not subjectively and/or arbitrarily. A business owner should be allowed to determine who he wants to hire based on their background. The government should not be involved in similar practices.

James Simpson lives in Lake Ridge where he fights for the rights of those he doesn’t necessarily agree with.

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