Tag: ORC

Knowing the Law

We had some chap in the back yard on Saturday afternoon. Memorial Day weekend Saturday. He’s a surveyor, and the pins on the property he’s trying to survey aren’t there. So he’s getting other pins for reference. But he didn’t want to provide his name or the name of his company. Which … yeah, dodgy. Scott ended up calling the police out, and they claim that surveyors can just wander on your property whenever they want. But the chap said he didn’t actually need to be on our property and took off.

Turns out he actually does work for a survey/engineering company. The prospective buyer who engaged the survey company stopped by to chat a bit. It’s amazing what a little customer service knowledge would get you — providing your name, license number (you know, something we could look up), and a business card with your company’s info is a lot less suspect than “no, I don’t need to give you my name or the company’s name. I can just wander around your property any time I want”. Honey v/s vinegar. At that, why in the world would the company’s policy not be driving up to the neighboring property, ringing the bell, and asking¬†first?! That’s just polite.

Funniest part of the whole thing, though? We looked up the actual laws for Ohio. ORC 163.03yes, a surveyor can wander onto your property. 48 hours after they notify you of their intention. They are not, however, allowed to randomly decide to wander around your property on Saturday afternoon with no notice. And, if you want to be a real jerk about it, you could still deny them access and adjudicate whether the pins in question are ‘necessary or proper for the purpose of the agency’.

Just because a law enforcement officer tells you something is the law doesn’t mean it’s the law.

ORC Agricultural Exemption and Commerce

While at a recent Zoning Commission meeting, they discussed how a use was judged to be (or not to be) agriculture vis-√†-vis Township not having a right to regulate agriculture per ORC 519.21. The example of a greenhouse used to grow flowers was given — not agriculture. Which got me thinking about the false association between ‘commerce’ and ‘agriculture’ — flowers are absolutely included in Ohio’s list of agriculture. ORC 303.01 reads:

agriculture" includes 
 farming; ranching; algaculture meaning the farming of algae; aquaculture; apiculture;
 horticulture; viticulture; animal husbandry, including, but not limited to, the care and raising 
    of livestock, equine, and fur-bearing animals;
 poultry husbandry and the production of poultry and poultry products;
 dairy production; the production of field crops,
 tobacco, fruits, vegetables, nursery stock,
 ornamental shrubs, ornamental trees, flowers,
 sod, or mushrooms; timber; pasturage;
 any combination of the foregoing; and the processing, drying, storage, and marketing
 of agricultural products when those activities are conducted in conjunction with,
 but are secondary to, such husbandry or production.

So why wouldn’t a greenhouse used to grow flowers count as an agricultural use? Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942) — a fairly wide reaching case — found that Mr. Filburn producing wheat for his own use (i.e. not selling it) still counted as commerce because he would have otherwise bought the wheat on the open market. Which is to say his wheat production was commerce because it was grown to allow him to avoid commerce. While Mr. Filburn’s production was not substantial, the cumulative action of personal-use growers would have a substantial impact on the market. Which was enough commerce to grant the federal government power to regulate his wheat production.

Same holds true here — and I think flowers were used an an example because it’s easy enough to say “eh, it’s just flowers”. But my concern is that the Township is going to want to use the same logic to regulate other agricultural activities. The personal production of poultry products may not be substantial, but the cumulative production of everyone who has some egg layers in their yard would be substantial. Thus egg laying chickens that produce for personal use would still be considered commerce by the logic of WIckard v. Filburn. I think someone claiming agricultural use for flowers might have a bigger hurdle, but a sufficiently motivated individual may be able to use this argument to substantiate the agricultural exemption for their greenhouse.

Hopefully this is one of those situations where the government doesn’t try to have it both ways — if personal production is commerce in one case, it should be commerce in other (very similar) cases.