Why the Arguments on Regulations are Convoluted

I want to break a myth I see portrayed everyday in the media. The myth of “These people know what they are talking about.” Trust me, they do no not. But unlike most when I make such an accusation I am not being flippant. Let me give you a real life first hand example on why things are the way they seem, and why these so-called “evil people” are not putting money to work in the economy.

It’s very hard for most to truly understand just how far-reaching some innocuous regulation is or can become because it makes for such a great sound bite. i.e.: “If you’re not for it, then you must want polluted water that kills women and children.” So let’s cut through this crap perpetrated by the requisite debate teams and I’ll put just one tiny little face on a monster of an issue.

Back a few years ago I along with another business associate were looking for a site to build a small retail center (some might call it a strip mall) where both him and myself would be the anchor tenants. Sounds simple enough, but as I go on you’ll see why it still only lives as an idea on paper.

We found what we deemed probably the best location in the city, and we were currently active businesses in this same town. It was a small lot which had an antiquated building that had been vacant for years. It was commercially zoned and was at the corner of a beautiful newly revamped intersection. It made so much sense to us when we saw it we both said “Let’s do it!” and started the ball rolling. We were to build a new structure from scratch and it would more or less make that intersection shine. As we began our due diligence everything came to a halt when one of the engineers we both were friendly with asked “Do you know or are you familiar with regulation #XX?” We said no and asked him to explain. (This is why you always need and pay for expertise) I’ll paraphrase from here:

“In this state there is a regulation that for any reason anyone can call the State and say they believe there could be some form of contamination on the site. They don’t need to have proof and they can call anonymously. If this is done by anyone for any reason (disgruntled neighbor, competitor et al) a Series X field test will be ordered and initiated. All construction no matter where in the process will be halted and you will not be able to resume until the findings are processed. You could be in the middle of paving and finishing the last square foot of your parking lot where you could be ordered to not only dig up a potion but all of the newly paved lot if it’s deemed necessary so the test can be conducted. This also can be applied at any stage of the construction process at any time. You also could find yourself during this process on the hook for not only lost time, wages, materials but a host of other expenses that could send your costs spiraling out of control. You could find yourself bankrupt before even opening your doors.” Now re-read and really think about the implications of that statement. Once I picked my jaw from the floor I asked “Can we order a test before we purchase with that contingency?” The answer was just as startling as the previous example. He continued by saying “Yes, and no.”

“Yes you can ask for the test to be done as a contingency but you won’t be allowed by the seller in most cases. Because if for some reason there is something there and it’s found, you can refuse to go forward but once any results are recorded, and all tests must be recorded and approved by the State, the seller or owner will be ordered to clean it up immediately regardless of the size and regardless of the cost. A lot that’s been in someones family for generations that is worth a few thousand could become a multimillion dollar liability overnight not to mention near unusable or salable for decades regardless if they themselves had anything to do with any contamination. Hence you can’t get the test done to protect yourself and they can’t let it happen as to protect themselves also.”

As of this writing almost 10 years have passed. That same corner lot has gone undeveloped and is more of an eyesore to the community than ever. I myself moved from the town closing my downtown location, and my associate sold his downtown location and moved both his business and his home to another.

In today’s world I could be portrayed as some evil person willing to live in a polluted world. Just depends on the debate team you’re in front of I guess.


© 2011 Mark St.Cyr All Rights Reserved