Fairfax County Bureaucrats Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Fairfax County, Virginia, is making sure that a local Christian family suffers for doing good. Karen and Joe Bartling, their college-age son, their four young adopted blind children, and their dog are living in a small apartment because County bureaucrats won’t let them move into their new house, reports the Washington Post.

The Bartlings’ developer cut down too many trees for the environmentally sensitive County’s regulations. After the local Mrs. Kravitz whined to Big Brother that the tree quota had been flouted, the County demanded that the Bartlings agreed to having 20 to 80 new trees planted on their property before they could live in their own house.

But the Bartlings believe that so many trees would present a hazard to their four blind children. “I don’t want my kids having black eyes running into trees all day,” Mrs. Bartling told the Post. “These kids have enough obstacles in their lives.” The Bartlings are trying to work out a deal with the developer and the County, which has said that it will accept fewer trees than normal.

The Bartlings’ saga–they call it their “Extreme Screwover”–illustrates why one-size-fits-all public policy doesn’t. Families know better than bureaucrats what their needs are, and blanket policies that seek to regulate families’ lives down to the number of trees they have will inevitably wreak havoc for those with special circumstances.

Like bureaucracies everywhere, Fairfax County is slow to see the forest for the trees. County urban forester Hugh Whitehead told the Post, “It gets pretty sticky sometimes with homeowners wanting to do what they choose with their property.”

No, what’s “sticky” is bureaucrats presuming to know best and abusing the power of the law to undermine families’ freedom.

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2 thoughts on “Fairfax County Bureaucrats Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

  1. I suppose one obvious question is: How long do those trees have to live?

    Planting a bunch of cheap, short-lived trees might be enough to fend off the Politburo. If these trees should later accidentally get dosed with Round-Up or something similar, well, things happen…

    Just a thought.

  2. How odd for an advocate for blind kids to assume they’d be running into trees all the time. Are there other difficulties the kids have, developmentally? There’s something not quite square in this story.

    Trees will help protect the kids from air pollutants, and asthma. They’ll reduce the air conditioning costs. And, on such a large piece of property, the trees will hold the soil and reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides.

    Why shouldn’t blind kids get trees like everyone else?

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