Frank Wolf’s Journey Through Hallowed Ground Proposal Draws Criticism from Heritage Foundation; Lashes Out at Principled Critics

From Peyton Knight:

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, a taxpayer-supported gang of preservation interest groups that apparently exists primarily to lobby for Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R-VA) “Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act” (H.R. 319), put out a press release a couple weeks ago calling us names.

According to the Partnership’s release:

The [Hallowed Ground Heritage Area legislation] has recently been tagged by The National Center for Public Policy Research, a right-wing ultra conservative lobbying organization as being a federal assault on property rights.

Several points:

1. While we can’t say exactly what the Partnership means by “right-wing ultra conservative,” within the context of this issue, it seems to mean “in favor of private property rights and limited, local government.” If so, we’re guilty as charged.

2. The National Center is not a “lobbying organization,” but rather a non-profit educational foundation. As such, we seek to educate the public about the dangers of initiatives like National Heritage Areas, and how they harm property rights and local government. Unlike the National Center for Public Policy Research, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership has acquired lawyers and land-use planning agencies to help them write legislation and lobby for it on Capitol Hill, as the Partnership has braggedof doing (and some thought Rep. Wolf wrote the bill!). It does so although its coalition receives significant funding from federal tax dollars.

3. Finally, while we certainly consider Rep. Wolf’s National Heritage Area to be a “federal assault on property rights,” we’ve never actually used that catchy phrase. However, Dr. Ronald Utt of the venerable Heritage Foundation recently dubbed Wolf’s boondoggle exactly that in an excellent paper entitled, ” Another Federal Assault on Property Rights: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act.”

Dr. Utt writes:

H.R. 319 would significantly threaten the rights of many private property owners living in the designated area while providing a financial windfall to a select group of landowners who have already developed their properties. At risk would be the housing and homeownership opportunities for middle-income and moderate-income families through exclusionary zoning and other legal mechanisms that are used to upgrade a community’s demographic profile.

The private organizers of the [Journey Through Hallowed Ground] partnership have also acknowledged that they are contemplating additional wealth-enhancing opportunities through the creation of a privately owned, for-profit real estate investment trust (REIT) to acquire properties in the heritage area and presumably develop them for the benefit of the REIT’s shareholders in a way that shelters their profits from the state and federal corporate income tax.

Some might say such cogent analysis smacks of “right-wing ultra conservatism.” Perhaps even double-secret right-wing ultra conservatism.

Such folks are advised to sit down while reading Dr. Utt’s paper.

To contact author Peyton Knight directly,
write him at [email protected]


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The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.