Zoning Scrooges Threaten Farmer’s Christmas Tree Giveaway

by Sarah ActivismComments: 15

You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch …

Christmas tree farmer Christian Critzer of Wayneboro,Virginia certainly never suspected that his charitable fundraising drive for cancer victims would draw the wrath of local government officials during what is supposed to be the most giving and kind hearted time of the year.

Mr. Critzer, a married father of two, devised a simple plan to give back to his community by raising money for cancer patients. His wife was in remission from breast cancer and in his relief and joy, decided to use his skills as a Christmas tree farmer to raise money in order to purchase custom wigs for cancer patients from a local hospital.

The Waynesboro zoning board didn’t see it that way.

A local zoning official showed up on Mr. Critzer’s doorstep on November 26, 2012 and told him that the Christmas tree drive he was running out of his home violated the city’s zoning ordinances because it was a “retail activity” not suitable for the single family homes of his neighborhood.

Mr. Critzer protested and told the official that the Christmas tree drive was in fact a charitable fundraiser for cancer victims from a local hospital.

The official persisted in his arbitrary enforcement of local zoning ordinances by issuing Mr. Critzer a notice of violation for his benevolent activities the following day.

In response, Mr. Critzer began to give his Christmas trees away and accepted only voluntary, unspecified donations for the cancer victims thinking that this would bring his fundraising activities into compliance with zoning requirements.  Those in this low income community who could not afford a tree were even given one without a donation!

The zoning board filled with Scrooges then demanded that Mr. Critzer’s Christmas tree giveaway stop immediately or else legal action would be pursued against his landlord for the apparent “zoning violation”.   The city’s threats had the desired effect.  Mr. Critzer ended his fundraiser for fear of losing his home and causing his family and his landlord hardship.

Why would the Waynesboro zoning board insist on its erroneous and improperly applied interpretation of local zoning ordinances despite Mr. Critzer’s efforts to communicate that his activities were for charitable and not commercial purposes?

Only the Grinch knows for sure, but the issue will hopefully be resolved in the positive Spirit of the Season as the Rutherford Institute has sent a letter to Todd Patrick, City Attorney for Waynesboro demanding that it rectify its grievous holiday mistake and allow Mr. Critzer to resume his charitable activities.

For those living in the Waynesboro, Virginia area, any expression of public outrage over this appalling overstep by city officials would likely benefit the situation as well.


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source:  Rutherford Institute Defends Tree Farmer Cited for Giving Away Christmas Trees in His Front Yard in Exchange for Donations to Raise Money for Cancer Victims

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Comments (15)

  • Becky Nelson Belair via Facebook

    A bunch of morons with nothing better to do..

    December 26th, 2012 2:51 pm Reply
  • wendell

    Shame on them. Itty, bitty people with a bellyful of self-importance trying to spoil a great idea due to stupid zoning regulations. Now if he was spreading liquid manure from a lagoon, that would be different. Get in the Christmas spirit and have some compassion for those who are battling cancer and instead of harassing this good man and his family, pitch in and help and donate a few bucks to what he’s trying to accomplish. The more some people are blessed and the more time they have on their hands, the more mean-spirited they seem to become, instead of counting their blessings that they are not suffering from this terrible disease. If you can’t lead or follow, get out of the way of people who are doing something good. Has anybody in the neighborhood complained about what he’s trying to do besides the zoning nazi’s?

    December 24th, 2012 3:28 pm Reply
  • Carol G.

    Sounds like a case of a small-minded “Barney Fife” type of city official trying to flex his/her little muscle in power tripping over any one he/she could. They were far too persistent to be of sound mind in their stubborn pursuit just to win. Give someone like that a little power and watch how much they abuse it. LOL!

    December 24th, 2012 3:15 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    Disgusting. We have tyranny at every level of government. Here in Northern California, the local regional government always declares Christmas a “spare the air day”, banning all fireplace use, and sending goons who are paid triple time to drive around on Christmas looking for smoke coming from chimneys, so they can hand out two hundred dollar fines whenever they find one. That is the kind of Christmas present you can expect from a bad government.

    December 24th, 2012 1:22 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      That is truly unbelievable Stanley.

      December 24th, 2012 5:26 pm Reply
      • Stanley Fishman

        Suspending common sense and reasonable disbelief is important if you are going to attempt to comply with our stupid government agencies. The “spare the air days” agency covers all nine counties in the SF bay area, and has divided the area into five reporting zones. If they consider the air to be “bad” in any one of the five zones, they will issue an alert, which will make any kind of woodburning illegal in the entire nine county area.

        Does not matter if the air is fine in four of the five zones, if it is “bad” in one, woodburning is illegal in all.five. That is also unbelievable, but true.

        December 24th, 2012 6:36 pm Reply
        • Rachael

          Unbelievable! As though it is families warming their homes with simple wood fires that has caused all the air pollution. Why don’t they tell corporations to “spare the air”?

          December 25th, 2012 1:15 pm Reply
        • Janice

          Agree with you Stanley, the government is only looking for ways to “screw” anyone. It is amazing that no body really has the freedom to express them selves, either is about a business or whatever. I mean the man is not selling drugs for cry out loud or doing anything harmful. And still the government manages to ruin the day, in this case to ruin Christmas.

          December 27th, 2012 3:34 am Reply
  • Onika Hardy Nugent via Facebook


    December 24th, 2012 1:15 pm Reply
  • Roxie Curtis via Facebook

    Where does the stupidity end?

    December 24th, 2012 12:21 pm Reply
  • Paula Childress Sullivan via Facebook

    zoning destroys as much as it helps! We need more common sense politics!

    December 24th, 2012 12:14 pm Reply
  • Hannah Karels via Facebook

    Is there an HOA or awful neighbor that complained? Either way, its shameful.

    December 24th, 2012 11:59 am Reply
  • Helen Kyriacou Rainey via Facebook

    Yes I heard about this one. Shameful doesn’t even begin to describe it. Don’t even get me started on the unending inanities born from zoning boards! Thanks for posting healthyhomeeconomist!

    December 24th, 2012 11:48 am Reply
  • watchmom3

    It just seems to me that of all people, those in charge, ought to have just a little COMMON SENSE AND DECENCY! This is appalling! Those council folks need to about face immediately! Hang in there, Mr. Critzer!

    December 24th, 2012 11:45 am Reply
  • Christie Sales Gmach via Facebook

    Let me go read the article. That town is about an hour or so away from me.

    December 24th, 2012 11:42 am Reply

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