Regulatory State Gone Berserk, Episode #335

Next on the regulatory hit-list…swing-sets:

Once rickety, aluminum, and usually on sale for a few hundred bucks, the backyard swing set has gone the way of the SUV and the suburban home. That is, huge. That means an equally sizable dilemma for village officials trying to label them. Are they a toddler’s toy or neighbor’s nightmare? Are they collapsible play things or permanent structures flouting village code? “We didn’t do this to offend anyone. We did it for our children,” said Karen Barry, recently cited for the enormous swing set that sits about 5 feet in from her property line. Although Barry was not fined, village code says all permanent structures have to be set back at least 10 feet. She and her husband are now seeking a variance so they can keep the swing set. . . . . The Barrys said they aren’t the only family in Royal Palm Beach with a sizable swing set, and it appears the village hasn’t enforced this particular ordinance in some time. So, why is this swing set being singled out now? “There’s 40 swing sets in the neighborhood,” Raymond Barry countered. “Twenty-eight, in my opinion, are in violation.” Bill Morris, the village’s planning and zoning director, said his office is going to conduct a swing-set survey next week in Madison Green – checking to see how many swing sets are teetering on property lines.

When people envision their tax dollars being spent on public-sector activities, I’d suspect that few ever imagine that those activities could include swing-set surveys by their local planning department. And the idea of applying to the same department for a variance for a swing set is similarly nonsensical, but apparently fully within the realm of possibility.