A local property developer had a problem. He wanted to put in a business, but the vacant lot next door was filled with trash.
Repeatedly, he asked the local planning commission to remove the tradh. It refused seven times.
So, he spent $20,000 to remove the trash, level the lot, and plant cherry trees.
The planning commission has ordered him to restore the trash at his expense. Otherwise, it will sue him. He had no authority to clean up the lot. He violated city planning ordinances.
The supreme issue here is not making the environment better. It is the defense of the sovereign authority of the city to decide how to regulate the environment. The official justification of such authority is the good of the people. But once the civil government takes over, the chief priority shifts to the maintenance of civil authority over the lives of citizens.
The planning committee now looks foolish. This is always risky. It might wake up the public. But the planners are probably correct. They can create lots of trouble for the developer, which will send a message to other developers: either grovel or pay a bribe.
The city of Houston has no zoning. All other cities do. The public thinks that planning by bureaucrats is the best way to create a nice environment. Then, once in a while, the real motivation of city planners surfaces. “Restore the trash or be fined.”