November 2, 2010

The people behind the caption

By The people behind the caption

Author: Brian T. Hodges002

Last week, I wrote about PLF’s victory in the regulatory takings case, Dunlap v. City of Nooksack.  Well, I want to take a moment to recognize the property owners in this case, Kipp and Marilyn Dunlap.  The Dunlaps are cattle farmers who own land in the City of Nooksack, a small town just south of the Canadian border.  Over the past decade, the city imposed increasingly strict land use restrictions on the Dunlaps, refusing to let them build a house larger than 480 square feet on their residential parcel and closing off an access road to their farm.  The impact has been devastating for farming – their livelihood.  They can’t even spread manure to grow their own feed anymore!

But the Dunlaps did not roll over.  They have been fighting against the city’s unreasonable land use restrictions for close to a decade, knowing that they were right despite disappointment after disappointment.  Kipp ran for office on a few occasions, receiving 44 percent of the vote in a council run.  The Dunlaps also fought the government regulation in multiple appeals and lawsuits.  It takes people of extraordinary fortitude and courage to take the fight to the government and its seemingly limitless resources. 

After the Court of Appeals issued its decision, the Dunlaps wrote me a note reminding me that what we do here at PLF is so important to real people:

"When the government makes the decision to do something and you speak against it they tend to steam roll right over you.  It takes a long hard effort to try to stand up for your rights when you’re dealing with the government.  Nobody wants to help or get involved.  In fact, everyone tends to abandon ship.  I can't begin to tell you how good it feels when a organization decides to step in and help you, especially when you’re left all alone.  We really appreciate how the Pacific Legal Foundation stepped in helped us in our case with the City of Nooksack.  Thank-you PLF"

It is my hope that the Dunlap v. Nooksack decision sends a message to all government – beyond the little hamlet to the north.  I am happy to see this very important decision is not going unnoticed.  Whatcom County’s KGMI ran a story on the Dunlaps last week.  The Bellingham Herald followed up with an article on the Dunlaps’ struggle to preserve their land.  And Robert Thomas at Inverse Condemnation posted a very insightful blog on the case.

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