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Brick Wall of Local Bureaucracy

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Some Good Samaritans wanted to clean up some trash in a neighborhood near me in Northern Virginia, and they ran into a brick wall of bureaucracy. I happened to notice this write-up on a neighborhood blog.

If you aren’t convinced yet that there is too much government bureaucracy in America, then this article is well worth reading. Here are some highlights:

Kay Cooper and Nancy Vorona, residents of Lake Barcroft, would like to see the Seven Corners area cleaned up.

…Government officials agree the area needs to be cleaned up. Yet nothing is being done. Cooper is beyond frustrated at the lack of action. “We spent hours on this and got nowhere,” she said. “It’s been like pulling teeth to get any information from anybody. It’s like they don’t really want to help us.”

Nearly a year ago Cooper and Vorona, in a spirit of neighborhood activism, started organizing a community-wide cleanup to occur on June 23, focusing on Leesburg Pike… They knew they needed approval from [the Virginia Department of Transportation] VDOT, but didn’t think that would be an insurmountable problem. Boy, were they wrong.

A member of Mason Supervisor Penny Gross’s staff helped Cooper and Vorona file the paperwork, Mason District Police officers agreed to lend their support, and they began rounding up volunteers. But then William Dunlap of VDOT told them in May that the road use authorization form they had submitted was the wrong form. According to Dunlap, they had to submit four separate land use permit forms, including an application, work zone certification, note of permittee liability, and erosion and sediment control contractor certification. They were also told they needed to purchase $1 million worth of liability insurance, hire a private contractor to provide security support, and set up “changeable message signs” two weeks in advance to warn the public about the clean-up event. Dunlap also told them VDOT preferred having the event scheduled on a weekday, even though that would make it more difficult to recruit volunteers.

Dunlap also told Cooper that local police, and not VDOT, are responsible for removing illegal signs, even if the signs are in the VDOT right of way. Meanwhile the Fairfax County Police Department said they’re not authorized to remove signs in the VDOT right of way.

The whole article is here.

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