At last Thursday's Grand Rapids Planning Commission meeting, Commissioner Shaula Johnston led the charge against the outlaws of Aquinas College who (shudder) wanted to build a new dormitory partly clad in vinyl siding. According to the G.R. Press, Johnston found vinyl to be "offensive". She declared that a building with it "doesn't look like an Aquinas dorm". She wanted the entire exterior to be brick instead of partly so. Then she chided Aquinas College for being "overly concerned" with construction costs.
Those bastards at Aquinas College! Who do they think they are? The law must be obeyed, and the law doesn't let property owners choose what materials they will build with. You don't have that right. That's the prerogative of Planning Commissioner Johnston and her colleagues.
Oh wait. Actually, outside of a few special districts, the law doesn't say that. The law doesn't care if Johnston thinks vinyl is offensive because it doesn't fit the look of other dormitories on the Aquinas campus. (As though the drab mid-century architecture of those buildings is something to celebrate.) It's not her call. What is offensive is a petty bureaucrat like Johnston taking a petitioner to task over a concern for cost when she is not writing the check for the baubles she wants added to a project.
Even more offensive is that three other planning commissioners overstepped their authority to join Johnston in ordering Aquinas to use brick instead of vinyl regardless of the expense. So remember, you may have title to your property, and you certainly have to pay the taxes on it, but with power-grabbing bureaucrats like Johnston and her ilk, don't think you actually own it. Also remember, this is why city elections like last Tuesday's matter. Who do you think appoints these tin pot dictators to the Planning Commission?