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Archive for November 28th, 2012

Meanwhile in Atlanta

Airport ramp workers reportedly egg the New Orleans Saints’ charter bus. Stay classy Atlanta.

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Matthews losses medical waste incinerator case

The state’s second highest court last week ruled against Matthews in its attempts to shut down MNC Holding’s medical waste incineration facility in the town. In 2009, the state adopted new air quality standards that would go into effect in 2014. Matthews got the Mecklenburg County Air Quality Division to move up the date for MNC to October 2012. The company sought a variance from the town to make the necessary changes to the facility — a variance being necessary as the incinerator’s is a “nonconforming use” for its current zoning — but its request was denied by the town. MNC then sued.

Matthews’ zoning ordinance states that:

No structural alterations are allowed to any structure containing a nonconforming use except for those required by law or an order from the office or agent authorized by the Board of Commissioners to issue building permits to ensure the safety of the structure.

The town took this to mean that the only changes allowed would those that needed to to ensure the safety of the structure — and as air quality regulations have nothing to do with the safety of the structure, MNC should not be allowed to make the necessary changes to comply with the new regulations.

The Court of Appeals was not impressed by this argument. As Judge Robert N. Hunter, Jr. wrote for the appeals court:

The intent of the statute is to allow property owners to make alterations when such alterations are “required by law.” In our legal system, town ordinances must defer to state and federal laws. The fact that the Town enacted the Ordinance recognizes this fact. Further, “[z]oning ordinances are in derogation of the right of private property, and, where exemptions appear in favor of the property owner, they should be liberally construed in favor of such owner.” Our Supreme Court has observed that this is especially true when property owners are required by law to make alterations to their property.

Accordingly, because MNC is compelled by law to make the alteration, the Ordinance should be interpreted liberally. The provision of the Ordinance allowing for alterations “required by law” was placed there by the legislators specifically for the purpose of “provid[ing] flexibility and ‘prevent[ing] practical difficulties and unnecessary hardships.’” Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s reversal of the zoning board.

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The ACC on the brink?

Says here that the Atlantic Coast Conference has sued the University of Maryland for just north of $52 million for the Terps decision to leave the ACC and join the Big Ten. The ACC claims that that amount — three times its yearly operating budget — is that current agreed to amount for leaving the conference. The key item from the Associated Press story:

The lawsuit also states that Maryland President Wallace D. Loh has “refused to provide assurance” that the school will pay the exit fee and “has made it clear that defendant Maryland does not intend to pay the amount.”

It’s hard to imagine Maryland making the move to the Big Ten if it thought it had to pay the ACC that sort of money. It’s entirely possible that Maryland is simply wrong on the law. It may also have thought — incorrectly it would seem — that the remaining ACC schools wouldn’t seek the full amount in damages.

There’s another possibility though: Let’s presume that Maryland’s decision is move both rational and well researched — that is to say that the ACC’s current exit fee is unenforceable. What then? It greatly increases the chances that the traditional football schools, beginning with Florida State, will bolt to higher revenues conferences, leaving a collection of schools better known for their basketball programs than gridiron success. In other words, the ACC circa 2017 could be a lot like the Big East of years past.

Bonus observation: College football is among the most corrupting forces in modern American society.

Update: The ACC is apparently set to add Louisville. That will fit in nicely with the basketball meme.

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The Great Unbundling

The traditional news media is in decline. Many conservatives think this is both a good thing and the result of a populace that is increasingly rejecting its traditional biases. JLF head John Hood, a former print reporter himself, disagrees in his column today:

“The Internet” is not a news generator. It is a news transmitter or aggregator. Most of the real news you’ll find online originated from a print newspaper, TV station, or wire service. The mainstream news media actually have a greater audience than ever before in their history. The problem isn’t drawing eyeballs. It’s drawing revenue.

The traditional business model faltered not because people stopping consuming the content it produced but because new technology served to unbundled what had been an all-or-nothing product. If you were looking to find a job, buy a house, or pick up a user car, you had to buy the entire newspaper to get to the valuable classifieds.

Yup.

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