Good call

October 11, 2011

In denying a request for a zoning variance to the owners of Legends Vineyard, of Asbury Road in Churchville, the Harford County Council has shown a willingness to preserve land not zoned for retail use from encroachment.

Such encroachment has long been a problem in Harford County, and much of suburban America. It's easy to look at a particular case like Legends Vineyard and conclude the owners are subjected to a hardship by Big Bad Government Regulation. But in this case, the hardship was known before the business was established. This was more of an instance of moving in next to an airport then complaining about the noise.

Not all government regulation is bad, though it does seem terrible when you're the one getting the answer you don't want to hear. Zoning laws in particular are there to protect us from our neighbors doing something on their land that might affect the whole neighborhood. In this case, the protection could be phrased in a way to make it sound rather trivial — allowing a vineyard to have a retail outlet — then again a retail outlet for a vineyard in one person's vocabulary is nothing more than a liquor store to someone else.

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