Is this bur oak worth saving?

bur oak  bur oak  
This bur oak tree on South Hwy 3 across from Target/Cub/Applebee’s is on the agenda for Monday night’s council meeting. See p. 26 of the Packet (PDF).

I love oak trees like one but it seems pointless to go to such lengths to keep it when the whole south section of Highway 3 from Woodley/246 to Cty Rd. 1 is mostly a commercial strip with little thought to aesthetics/nature. (continued)



At the February 10, 2009, Planning Commission meeting, the Commission recommended approval of the Bridgewater Commons Final Plat with the following conditions:

1. The 44” existing tree on the property will not be removed when site plan applications are filed with the City. This requirement will be imposed upon the property in the City Council Resolution for the final plat and the development agreement.

The following is further information about these conditions:

1. Existing tree: There is a large bur oak tree that is hoped could be retained when the site is developed. The purpose of condition #1, above, was to require the applicant to make every effort to retain and protect the tree when planning for site improvements, and during actual construction of these improvements.

However, there is no guarantee that despite good-faith efforts, that the tree will survive during construction, or survive after construction is completed (the tree is estimated to be at least 100+ years old, and is easily susceptible to

In addition, in considering the language of condition #1 after the Planning Commission meeting, Staff is of the opinion that the current language would not prohibit the applicant from removing the tree prior to a Site Plan Review application being filed with the City.

Therefore, Staff recommends the following language be included in Resolution 2009-037 and in the development agreement:

  • The existing 44” diameter tree will remain on the property during the 2009 improvements to the site covered under this Agreement. The tree will be protected from damage during site grading, miscellaneous improvements and building construction to the maximum extent practicable. If the health of the tree declines prior to site improvements on Lot 1 Block 2, and the applicant wishes to remove the tree, a forester’s report may be submitted with the site plan review application for consideration by the City.


  1. John S. Thomas said:

    I think it should be given every chance to live.

    Killing a 100 year old tree to replace it with a fast-food restaurant seems like a horrible waste.

    It CAN be protected. It is just a matter of wanting to protect it.

    April 18, 2009
  2. David Ludescher said:

    Since when, and why do trees get more protection than human fetuses?

    April 18, 2009
  3. kiffi summa said:

    Not about fetuses, David; it’s about a 100 year old tree.

    The tree can be saved if the will is there to do it. They don’t have to get near it for construction if the goal is to save it. Even if there is parking planned around it, it could be semi-permeable paving, rather than asphalt.

    I would urge the council to hold the line; Northfield does not have to be defined by how many fast-food restaurants it has.

    It should, however, be defined by its development Principles.

    April 18, 2009
  4. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: It’s not the Council’s tree. It’s not your tree, or my tree.

    April 18, 2009
  5. David Koenig said:

    There was a tree ordinance several years back. Is it not still in effect?

    April 18, 2009
  6. Peter Millin said:


    You are correct..we spend posts on a stupid tree, but could care less if we kill babies….go figure.

    April 18, 2009
  7. Bright Spencer said:

    The burr oak tree is one of my favorites and is a great symbol of honor for Northfield.

    Cherish All of Life.

    April 18, 2009
  8. kiffi summa said:

    But David L, the Planning Commission does have a right to put a condition on a development application.

    What is the point of spending all the time wrangling out community standards if we then turn into the ubiquitous fast food strip?

    I know, David; you think ‘we’ DIDN’T develop community standards because there were only a couple of hundred people at the Armory Planning sessions, and you felt they weren’t representative. Then we’re right back to the OLD/ CONSTANT argument of how to validate the wishes of those who do NOT participate in the community process.

    Could a Planning Commissioner please answer David K’s question about the tree ordinance?

    April 18, 2009
  9. David Ludescher said:

    Kiffi: The Planning Commission is an advisory body, and it is giving bad advice.

    April 19, 2009
  10. Rob Hardy said:

    I agree with Bright. A more generous respect for all life, for the place of each organism in a biotic community, of each tree in a landscape, would go further than a continual reduction of everything to the question of abortion. David L. and Peter, like you I would not want to see abortion resorted to simply as a matter of convenience. But you are willing to cut down a 100-year old tree as a matter of convenience to developers. That attitude, it seems to me, is part of the culture of convenience that, unfortunately, is stronger than the “culture of life” in this day and age. If we want to foster a respect for life, we need to start making difficult choices about trees and other living things, not just about the young of our own species. We need to preserve or create landscapes that reflect our respect for life, not just our appetite for convenience. I think the world is more beautiful, more worth living in, more worth bringing children into, when there are bur oaks and prairies: when there is a natural landscape to balance the landscape of development.

    It may be a “stupid tree,” Peter, but it says something about the strength of our character if we can find a way to preserve and protect something so old, so vulnerable, so much at our mercy.

    April 19, 2009
  11. Bruce Anderson said:

    I agree with Bright and Rob.

    I especially appreciate and share Rob’s perspective that

    the world is more beautiful, more
    worth living in, more worth bringing
    children into, when there are bur oaks
    and prairies: when there is a natural
    landscape to balance the landscape of

    For me, and I think it’s safe to say for many others, one of Northfield’s greatest assets is the opportunity it affords its residents to easily escape from the built environment and connect with a more natural environment. Whether it’s the Arb (thank you, Carleton!), St. Olaf’s Natural Lands (thank you, St. Olaf!), Hauberg Woods (thank you, Marguerite!!!), other pockets of preserved/restored landscape, or the rural roads passing through the farmland of Rice, Goodhue and Dakota counties where I simultaneously bike and recharge my personal batteries, all contribute greatly to the quality of life in the Northfield area.

    One bur oak may seem a small thing (even stupid, perhaps, Peter), but its preservation is indeed important, for what it says about (quoting Rob) “the strength of our character if we can find a way to preserve and protect something so old, so vulnerable, so much at our mercy.”

    In addition, there is the argument that (philosopher?lawyer?) Christopher Stone made in his seminal essay (and book) Should Trees Have Standing. His thesis was that, quite independently of human wants and needs, natural objects (trees and others) should have legal rights. As Mr. Stone wrote in 1972,

    I am quite seriously proposing that we
    give legal rights to forests, oceans,
    rivers and other so-called “natural
    objects” in the environment–indeed to
    the natural environment as a whole.

    I will not attempt to summarize Mr. Stone’s full argument, but will just note that he argues that human rights have expanded greatly over time (to include once right-less children, women, blacks, etc.), as have rights for inanimate entities (trusts, corporations, joint ventures, municipalities, nation states, etc.). As Mr. Stone points out, the proponents of expansion of rights are nearly always derided or denounced as threats to society, blah, blah, blah. I imagine the same is likely to follow here, but I say: let the bur oak stand.

    The fact that, as Griff notes, the rest of the Highway 3 South corridor is “mostly a commercial strip with little thought to aesthetics/nature” is no reason to whack the last remaining beautiful tree in the area.

    April 19, 2009
  12. David Ludescher said:

    To all of you who want to save the tree: I would like it if the tree were saved. But, it is odd that I can’t have a say in terminating a human life, but I should have a say in this tree’s life.

    April 19, 2009
  13. Peter Millen said:

    he last AGI numbers are for 1996.
    Totaling all of AGI’s figures
    1973-1996, the number of abortions
    through 1996 is 35,316,203. To bring
    that figure up through the end of 1999
    requires several steps.

    The first step is based on the fact
    that the CDC reported a 3% drop in the
    number of abortions between 1996 and
    1997. Since AGI reported 1,365,730 abortions in 1996, we arrive at an
    estimated number of abortions in the
    U.S. for 1997 at 1,324,758 (the 1996
    figure minus 3%). That would raise the
    figure through 1997 to 36,640,961. But
    what about 1998 and 1999? To be
    conservative, we will assume that
    figure did not decline further – –
    that the number of abortions for 1998
    and for 1999 was the same as for 1997.
    Under that scenario, AGI’s figure
    would show a total of 38,146,094
    abortions from 1973 to 1999
    (36,640,961 plus 1,324,758 x two).

    Even that figure is incomplete. As AGI
    itself admits, it is not able to tally
    all abortions. If one factors in the
    additional 3% of abortions AGI says
    may be missed due to underreporting,
    the total figure since 1973 rises to

    You are preaching to the choir here……again O don’t have to justify or brag to anybody how I protect the environment.

    If we want to foster a respect for life, we need to start making difficult choices about trees and other living things, not just about the young of our own species.

    If we want to foster a respect for life we need to stop pretending that killing a fetus is not the same as killing a life.
    Therein lies the absurdity of the current attitude about legal abortion.
    As I have said earlier abortion is legal and we should protect every woman’s right to chose, but don’t pretend it isn’t murder.

    As dumb as the term “stupid tree” might be. I you put it in context of the above numbers….it is justified.

    In general I think the “stupid tree” should be saved. But the hypocrisy of the outcry of those that think abortion is not murder is more then I can bear..thus the reference “stupid tree”.

    I agree that we should be mindful of our environment ….do we really need more malls, suburbs and fast food stores?

    April 19, 2009
  14. Griff, what’s the logic in saying that “it seems pointless to go to such lengths to keep it when the whole south section of Highway 3 from Woodley/246 to Cty Rd. 1 is mostly a commercial strip with little thought to aesthetics/nature.”

    Because it’s ugly, we should make it worse? What we’ve done in developing all of the city (not just the ugly Hwy 3 developments) is to take the living and replace it with the dead. We took a corn field, which grew and lived, and replaced it with Target and Cub and acres of asphalt, which are all dead. It just just a tree, but why kill the largest remaining living plant just because so much has already been destroyed?

    Rob put it perfectly: “That attitude, it seems to me, is part of the culture of convenience that, unfortunately, is stronger than the ‘culture of life’ in this day and age.”

    April 19, 2009
  15. Jane McWilliams said:

    A tree can have symbolic value. An ancient oak, reputed to have been there during Ferdinand and Isabella’s time,( 1470’s), survived the Nazi bombing of Guernica in 1937. Although only 25% of their city survived, perhaps the oak gave the people of Guernica the hope needed to rebuild their city.

    Why not do what can be done to protect the South Highway 3 oak to as Rob suggests, “foster a respect for life?” No matter where we live, work and shop in Northfield, some part of nature has been sacrificed to make it possible. As long as it stands, the bur oak reminds me of of this truth and of the necessity to be careful how we alter the landscape for human use.

    April 19, 2009
  16. David Ludescher said:

    Rob: I agree as a matter of religion/faith principles. However, I don’t understand how I or anyone other than the owner has a political say in what should happen to that tree.

    The tree doesn’t have rights; nor do you or I have any rights over the tree. By what principle can government impose its will for the sake of saving a a plant’s life?

    April 20, 2009
  17. Nathan E. Kuhlman said:


    Do you think you could create a permanent Abortion thread for the benefit of those few who feel compelled to divert every other discussion towards their pet grievance?

    April 20, 2009
  18. Peter Millin said:

    If there is a reasonable way to save the tree it would be nice if it could be saved.

    I used the term “stupid tree” because the hypocrisy of those that believe a fetus is not life, essentially put the tree above a fetus.

    April 20, 2009
  19. Griff Wigley said:

    Peter and David L, no more abortion-related comments here, please. Find another way to make your arguments.

    April 20, 2009
  20. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m all for saving the tree but at what cost? The city has likely spent thousands on this already, as has the developer. I can think of many other environmental uses for that money that could have had more long lasting or better yet, systemic impact.

    April 20, 2009
  21. Rob Hardy said:

    Griff: I do think there is a long-term systemic benefit from rethinking our ideas about design and development, and about the relationship of the built to the natural environment, and implementing a development strategy that is more respectful of the natural landscape. You complain that that stretch of Hwy 3 is already ugly. Your solution: more ugliness? Why not begin to implement a new approach that, tree by tree, begins to ameliorate the ugliness? I’m glad the city is thinking about trees, and perhaps moving toward a more thoughtful approach to development that takes into account aesthetics and nature and context, not just convenience.

    April 20, 2009
  22. Peter Millin said:

    The bigger question is….do we really need another strip mall in Northfield?

    I am a bit surprised that any developer would even undertake such a project, given the current economy. A stroll through downtown should have answered that question.

    April 20, 2009
  23. I’m all for saving the tree but at what cost? The city has likely spent thousands on this already, as has the developer. I can think of many other environmental uses for that money

    What about the all the complaint over the little almost-dead sidewalk trees taken out of Fifth Street last year? This is only one tree, but it’s a significant one. I worry that we’re being more skeptical of the effort to save this tree just because it’s in a less desirable location.

    Peter wrote, “The bigger question is… do we really need another strip mall in Northfield?” I think this is a very good point. Even development that doesn’t kill the tree will kill the grasses that grow there (and probably replace some of them with energy-intensive lawns of turf).

    It probably will not be a bike/pedestrian-friendly facility. It probably will not be designed to avoid run-off. So I think it’s good to build something that accommodates the tree, but it’s even better to build nothing at all.

    April 20, 2009
  24. Steph Miller said:

    I agree David. I do like the fact that the Council is going to make an effort to save the tree. I have many of these on my property as well. It’s worthwhile to save the tree. I just think it’s a little ironic that pets/wildlife/plants are given so much attention while so many children die with no voice.

    April 20, 2009
  25. David Beimers said:

    I wasn’t aware there was a measurement of intelligence for trees… or that infanticide was now legal. It is not that difficult to incorporate a single tree into a commercial development. Perhaps the developers could even capitalize on it and name the coming strip mall “Oak Ridge” or “The Oaks of Southfield.”

    April 20, 2009
  26. This is a depressing discussion. The bur oaks are some of the biggest, most majestic living things in Northfield. I hope that the city and the developer will think carefully about undoing in a few seconds what it took a century or more to do – especially if this tract ends up being degraded for another (patently unneeded) strip mall or another sort of cookie-cutter commercial development. If that comes to pass, I won’t patronize those businesses.

    April 20, 2009
  27. kiffi summa said:

    I agree. We keep making development plans, and setting forth ‘visionary’ principles and then ignoring them. That big bur oak is the only aspect of the area that isn’t ubiquitous.
    Whoops, I take that back; the 1st Nat’l Bank building is an original design. But that’s one out of how many along the Highway strip? And it is a franchise strip.

    Also, the city has changed the zoning on the West side of the highway to support this kind of development at the same time that we hear about having no 20-30 Acre spots for the kind of light industry they want to attract. I may be wrong , but I think that entire west of the highway, across from Target, was about thirty acres ???

    It makes me wonder about the results of two plus years of new comp plan work, when the zoning always gets changed to accommodate any proposed development. (The zoning there was changed to facilitate the movie theatre project, which then never materialized.) I can sympathize with the property owner who applies for a zoning change when there is a big project in the offing; but when that project doesn’t happen, should the zoning then revert?

    April 21, 2009
  28. Mike Paulsen said:

    Saying the tree is “100+ years old, and is easily susceptible to injury” might give the impression that it’s old and frail.

    A quick google search says 200-300 years isn’t an exceptional life expectancy for a bur oak. Bur oak is susceptible to injury (soil compaction, root damage) if care isn’t taken during construction, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t do just fine for decades or perhaps centuries if properly cared for.

    Anyone care to guess what it would cost the city to purchase/lease the land immediately surrounding the tree?

    April 21, 2009
  29. Griff Wigley said:

    Mike, I think the landowner told the city that the tree was 160 years old. I’m not 100% sure but I think the city hired someone who confirmed it.

    April 21, 2009
  30. Griff Wigley said:

    Hey, Happy Earth Day!

    Sean wrote:

    What about the all the complaint over
    the little almost-dead sidewalk trees
    taken out of Fifth Street last year?

    Sean, many of those complaints were about a lack of communication about taking down the trees. Plus, there’s been a concerted effort for decades to make downtown beauteous. Not so for Hwy 3.

    April 22, 2009
  31. john george said:

    Mike- A realistic estimate of whether the city could purchase the land around the tree must be offset by the lost tax revenue of curtailed retail developement. It reminds me a little of the lyrics to a song out of my youth:

    They took all the trees and put ‘m in
    a tree museum. And they charged all
    the people a dollar and a half just to
    see ‘m.

    I’m not sure how much hope an inanimate life form has in the face of economic developement.

    April 22, 2009
  32. Rob Hardy said:

    From what I’ve heard since this discussion started, it looks as if it will be extremely difficult, in any case, for the developer to protect and preserve that bur oak. Northfield will lose a 160-year old tree that represents a unique history and landscape. What will we receive in return: KFC, which has a truly vomit-inducing environmental record. Not only that, KFC represents (singularly unattractive) competition with an established and valuable local business. Why go to KFC when you can have broasted chicken at the Quarterback Club? I foresee, in the not-too-distant future, the bur oak gone and an ugly fast food building standing empty. A lose-lose for everyone in Northfield.

    April 24, 2009
  33. John S. Thomas said:

    AMEN Rob! I have not eaten at a KFC in probably 20 years, and having a new one in town is not going to change that track record.

    Maybe the city council is looking for KFC to fund and sponsor some pothole repair in Northfield (Serious Business here folks!) Here is the link:
    link text

    April 24, 2009
  34. Griff Wigley said:

    Rob, on what grounds would you have the City/Planning Commission refuse to allow a KFC on Hwy 3? I won’t eat there but lots of Northfielders will and I think it’s a perfect fit for what else is already out there.

    April 26, 2009
  35. Rob Hardy said:

    I don’t know what criteria the Planning Commission uses to make these decisions. Perhaps they want to encourage drive-thrus, obesity, cruelty to chickens, and corporate aesthetics. Why should a city planning commission be concerned with planning for reduced carbon emission, healthy citizens, ethical and humane business practices, and attractive and diverse landscapes? Much more important to cram in another fast-food place in an undiversified strip. But does “zoning” have to mean “more of the same”?

    April 26, 2009
  36. Griff Wigley said:

    I got this via email from a lurker:

    alt text

    April 26, 2009
  37. Rob and others, zoning and land use (which has been the only stream of decision-making here) is a pretty blunt instrument. Current zoning allows this sort of use and the Planning Commission cannot (legally) say “no” or “not here.” They can make a few requests about parking, setbacks, and the like. That’s it.

    New land use regulations are currently in draft form and if we do our job well, they will be more sensitive and prescriptive when it comes to issues like stormwater runoff, ensuring pedestrian access, building orientation, and “franchise architecture.”

    However, 2 points:

    1. Zoning and land use regulation are not the tools by which corporate ethics and fast food culture will be changed. Not patronizing these establishments and working so that few enough people spend money in them so as to make them economically unprofitable will. I’m betting this will not be a government driven change.

    2. Even with the best land use regulations (which I know Locally Grown’s Tracy Davis is working toward on the Planning Commission as I am at the Council level), change will be incremental and (frustratingly) slow. Changing the Highway 3 strip will be the result of one small development and redevelopment change after another.

    April 26, 2009
  38. Rob Hardy said:

    And meanwhile, the city loses a 160-year old historical and ecological asset and gains another unneeded source of indigestion and diarrhea. You speak of “changing the Highway 3 strip,” but you can never replace that tree once it’s gone. We will be stuck for years to come with the terrible land use decisions we make now. But I’m sure you’re right in everything you say about land use regulations, Betsey, and I’m glad you’re working on a better system. Any chance that a regard for biodiversity and landscape history are part of those changes?

    April 26, 2009
  39. I think I would be comfortable saying that the South Highway 3 strip is a disaster. It’s unsafe (too high a speed limit with too many intersections), it’s unhealthy (pervasive fast-food and aggressive anti-pedestrian design), it’s unecological (we can’t avoid hitting 10 sq ft of tree in a wide open space?), and it’s ugly.

    Until the improved land use regulations are in place, Betsey, why are we allowing what we — regular citizens and planners — deem problematic to continue? Is there really nothing the city could do to freeze development until new regulations are in place (in the same way Bridgewater did under the ethanol threat)?

    I agree that it’s not the role of the planning commission to address the unhealthy food sold at KFC. It does seem like it ought to be their role to control destructive and car-encouraging site design.

    April 26, 2009
  40. Rob Hardy said:

    On my blog, I’ve posted a little story about a time when Nortfielders were able to band together to save an historic tree, and create the world’s smallest city park (an honor now held by a park in Portland, Oregon). Too bad that spirit of tree-loving civic-mindedness is lost to us now.

    April 26, 2009
  41. Peter Millin said:

    The issue of the tree is about private property rights, which are guaranteed in our constitution. I hope this is still that America that respects constitutional rights.

    The owner of the land has the right to do with that tree however he pleases. We might disagree with his/her choices, but this is the essence of tolerance.

    If you don’t like KFC then don’t frequent the restaurant. Again KFC is a private business and has the right to be there.

    April 26, 2009
  42. Bright Spencer said:

    If the bur oak is killed then how are you gonna charge tourists to come and see the last bur oak alive?

    Why are we not preserving beauty? We cannot import another one of these any time soon. I am not referring to the law. The law is the law because it’s always been done that way and a chain of links that goes back to a feudal system…unless you go back to the law of some of my ancestors who gave thanks every day for every tree that provided food, shade and medicine. Some may not even know that acorns come from oaks and can be used as food and medicine.

    In my neighborhood, my house is one of the few that has trees that actually provide shade on a hot summer’s day to pedestrians. When we first moved here, I came home one day to find a woman dressed in long scarves with several children all sitting on the lawn under my trees and all I could think of was, what a wonderful site.
    She looked my way and I just nodded and went inside. She knew she could stay and not have to rush off because it was “MY property and not hers”.

    The first month I was in this house, another neighbor, said, cut this tree down, it’s messy. For goodness sake. Another neighbor actually got upset because I said I like longer lawn grass(as it is healthier and stays green longer.) For goodness sake.
    People are getting too carried away with cleanliness and property lines. This is America. Home of the free and brave, not the miserly and mean.

    April 26, 2009
  43. The issue of the tree is about private property rights, which are guaranteed in our constitution. I hope this is still that America that respects constitutional rights.

    Peter, you know as well as anyone that property rights are not absolute. If Xcel had purchased that plot of land, that doesn’t mean they could just start piling up nuclear waste there. Ecological destruction is similarly against the public interest, and we as the public should do everything possible to prevent it.

    April 26, 2009
  44. Northfield city government should do all it can to attract, encourage, and reward “good” development – which, like many of you, I think should be compact, bikeable, walkable, use the best environmental practices/materials, and buildings and sites designed to harmonize with their natural and built location.

    But government is limited and that’s a good thing. Even if KFC is undesirable, it’s good that the Planning Commission follows the rules we have and doesn’t act arbitrarily. We’re working to change the rules to guide development in a more sustainable direction. However, I also want to make Northfield a place where businesses wish to come and that means regulations cannot be so onerous and restrictive that business can’t afford to locate here.

    I’m looking for that balance between prescribing uses and forms and the need to keep regulation reasonable and reasonably priced.

    April 26, 2009
  45. Peter Millin said:


    Now you are stretching..comparing cutting down a tree with a nuclear dump site is a bit over the top.
    I am asking you the same question as I have asked Tracy.

    Where do we draw the line, between property rights and ” rights of the community” ?

    Who will decide that right?

    If we chose to ignore our constitution, why should anybody respect any other laws?

    I would hope that all Americans, despite their political differences, still agree that our constitution is the bedrock of our society. Without it we fall in to anarchy, socialism, fascism, monarchy or any other strange form of government.

    April 28, 2009
  46. Peter, I would be stretching if I said they were equally problematic to the community. They’re not; of course I would rather have a KFC than nuclear waste.

    My point was simply that property rights are not absolute. You seem to agree. I happen to think that destroying a tree older than the city itself is against Northfield’s public interest.

    You continue to refer to the Constitution, but I’m not sure what exactly you have in mind. The only part of the Constitution that even refers to property rights is the last bit of the fifth amendment: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Since only some are suggesting that the City buy the land and nobody is suggesting they take it without just compensation, I don’t know what you’re getting worked up about.

    April 28, 2009
  47. Peter Millin said:

    Getting worked up?? Hardly.Just pointing out the obvious.

    You got the passage I was referring to.

    April 28, 2009
  48. Peter Millin said:

    Getting worked up?? Hardly.Just pointing out the obvious.

    You got the passage I was referring to.

    Given our current financial situation, saving a tree is hardly on the top of my list.

    April 28, 2009
  49. David Henson said:

    Peter and David,
    I am trying to follow your logic here. If that Burr Oak were growing out from your belly then you would or would not agree that society should have a say as to whether the Burr Oak gets removed ?

    April 28, 2009
  50. Jerry Friedman said:

    David: People with an aesthetic interest in the tree may have standing to protect the tree. In this sense, it’s everyone’s tree.

    April 28, 2009
  51. Jerry Friedman said:

    Without impliedly criticizing Betsy, had I been elected, I would have taken every legal approach to preserve the tree. At least, I would have worked with concerned citizens to protect it. Even if I was neutral on the issue, it’s apparent that many Northfield citizens are not. Who on the City Council speaks for them?

    Even without a government title, I am happy to help organize a plan to protect the tree. If there’s real interest in doing so, speak up. Carpe diem!

    April 28, 2009
  52. Peter Millin said:


    Now that’s a silly question, but here it goes.

    I think i made it abundantly clear that i won’t deny a woman the right to an abortion.
    This issue has been settled by the courts. I do however disagree that we as a society pretend that we are not killing life. This premise does nothing more then make us feel better and pretend that it is not killing.

    The whole premise on this is absurd at best. I believe if we as a society want the right to kill a fetus…call it what it is and don’t pretend anything else.
    Once we come to grips with this notion of killing. I think we are starting to look at it with more respect.

    None of this will infringe on the rights of a woman to an abortion.

    April 29, 2009
  53. Peter Millin said:


    PS…Where do we draw the line of when the perceived wellfare of a community goes in to a direct conflict with private property rights?

    April 29, 2009
  54. David Henson said:

    I think, on the whole, private property rights lead to the best stewardship of land. Of course there will be exceptions but not so many as would arise from communal rights.

    Someone mentioned the constitution does not even mention property but that is highly misleading as the state constitution in MN is obsessed with property rights.

    Private property shall not be taken,
    destroyed or damaged for public use
    without just compensation therefor,
    first paid or secured. (You want to
    keep the oak the shell out the
    increased costs associated with
    keeping the oak – fair is fair) Sec.
    15. LANDS ALLODIAL; VOID AGRICULTURAL LEASES. All lands within the state are
    allodial and feudal tenures of every
    description with all their incidents
    are prohibited. Leases and grants of
    agricultural lands for a longer period
    than 21 years reserving rent or
    service of any kind shall be void.

    Sec 15 really deserves its own thread someday. About 15 years ago I had occasion to see the word “allodial” and searched the web for information (interestingly my word processor flags as a misspelling). The search brought me to sites for “crazy freemen” who made wild arguments that government backed mortgages were illegal and would bankrupt out nation – like I said “crazy freemen.” These same crazy freemen (who now are looking more and more sane) said the mortgage itself and property tax violate most state constitutions which were very clear in articulating private property rights.

    April 29, 2009
  55. Peter Millin said:


    There is a reference in the Declaration of Independence to property rights as well.

    We hold these truths to be
    self-evident, that all men are created
    equal, that they are endowed by their
    Creator with certain unalienable
    Rights, that among these are Life,
    Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    The phrase “pursuit of happiness” replaced “possessing property”, as declared in the constitution of early Virginia. This was done due to the sensitives around the slavery issue, but in spirit essentially mean the same.

    April 30, 2009

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