A New Year’s Remembrance of Things Past

            Three years ago this morning I poured the first cup of coffee of 2010, closed the door to my study, and wrote a melancholy reflection of the economic devastation we had witnessed the preceding year.  One year ago I republished the original post (Ringing in the New Year with Appropriate Punctuation) with a follow-up […]

Case Law Update – Vested Rights and Lousy Syntax

            Last week the Court of Appeals published an opinion (MNC Holdings v. Town of Matthews) that analyzed how to interpret poorly written zoning ordinances, especially when a citizen’s property and rights are on the line.               Full and complete disclosure: I was lead counsel for the prevailing party.   I have strong opinions about the […]

Cell Towers, Elections, Land Lines and Crystal Balls

            Swing state voters in 2012 – including the good people of North Carolina – got a taste of what it’s like to live in Iowa and New Hampshire every four years, and for most folks in my generation it wasn’t fun.  You see, folks my age still use land lines to make phone calls […]

Harry Potter and the Zoning Board

             In case you haven’t seen the news articles, Harry Potter series author, J.K. Rowling, had to get permission from the Edinburgh City Council to construct a couple of tree houses for her children amidst a deluge of protests from neighbors.  I’ve enjoyed several articles on this guerre du jour because it illustrates how a […]

On Leviathan’s Trail

            Leviathan.  Li-VAYH-uh thuhn – (1) “Anything of immense size and power, as a huge, oceangoing ship. (2) The title of Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 philosophical work which asserts that a strong central government is the only means of averting social chaos and civil war.”             Thomas Hobbes, meet the North Carolina Supreme Court, which heard […]

Postcard Pienza – Exploring Urban Boundaries

            When I traveled through Europe by train 30 years ago I marveled at how cities seemed to stop and start at defined points on the broad landscape, in stark contrast to American cities that bleed forever into the rural (or at least “non-urban”) periphery.              Thirty years later I marvel again as I travel […]

Postcard Castelnuovo di Garfagnana — the Purpose of Public Space

When it comes to the numerous principles of New Urbanism I wander variously between McCauley Culkin’s “Yeesssss!!!!!” and Jerry Seinfeld’s “Yeah, yeah, yada yada yada.” But after a few days of exploring Italian villages I’ve developed a firmer conviction that a community is not truly a community unless it has a public place where people […]

Postcard Florence — The Anatomy of a Great City

When it comes to the amoebic growth and prosaic functionality of the urban civitas, I am, to put it bluntly, a nerd.  I was last in Florence in 1982, the same week Italy won the World Cup in a sport I could barely play and certainly didn’t follow, but it didn’t stop me from climbing […]

Colonel Sherman Potter’s Commentary on Legislative “Ethics”

            I’ve written several posts in this space on the topic of governmental ethics and the often-shifting and occasionally fuzzy line separating personal interest from public good.  As I said in a previous post (Government Ethics (Redux)): “From lowly Soil and Water Conservation District representatives to the President, men and women elevated to elected and […]

Blog Writer’s Farewell

            Not my farewell, but my blog partner’s farewell. Someone you didn’t know existed.  My job in this space has been content.  To provide commentary and insights into the world of land use and the environment that you don’t get from any other source.  But like all endeavors, there’s a team.              If you go […]

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