February 7th, 2022
Polk County, GA — There is no question that 2020 was one of the most difficult years in American history. As the government shut down the economy, driving unemployment to record levels and forcing businesses to close their doors forever, tens of millions of Americans found themselves in dire straits. To deal with the unprecedented hard times, some folks like Tim Leslie and his family began to get creative, buying property and homesteading. However, because the land of the free is but a fleeting memory in this country, government officials did all they could to thwart it.
We first reported on the Leslie family last year after Tim lost his job due to the pandemic. With no other options in mind, he bought a plot of land in Polk County, parked an RV on it and began to live off the land. On the property, Leslie has chickens, goats, and a vegetable garden for his wife and their two kids, 9-year-old Knox and 18-month-old Daisy.
The family planned on building their “forever home” on the property where they would retire. Unfortunately, however, that has yet to happen. TFTP has been keeping up with Leslie over the last year and they keep hitting speed bump after speed bump.
As we reported at the time, after he was fired, Leslie took his life savings — draining his pension and 401(k) — and bought the property in Polk County. The purchase took place in November of 2020.
The family’s dreams of homesteading on their own property came to a grinding halt, however, and has morphed into a nightmare thanks to the intrusive and utterly cruel nature of the state. They were kicked off their property just days before Christmas.
“My family and I were forced off our property 4 days before Christmas illegally by a corrupt local government. We were cited with a bullshit code that doesn’t apply. Then threatened to keep us from going to court. The threats were real. No representative will respond,” Leslie tweeted recently.
Leslie and his family are no longer living on their own property and are instead living in an RV park because county officials forced them to move. The county issued the family a steep fine and then ordered them to move or face arrest and have his property stolen — because living on your own property in an RV is “illegal.” They have been in this situation for a year.
It has been a year. A year that has taken its toll. With the extra expenses of maintaining our property and animals, and a second space to rent/live we are no better off than a year ago. I thought the government was supposed to protect people. Who protects you from the government? I broke no laws. There was no victim. WE are the victims. The laws as written where ignored by everyone involved except me. I am angry. Please pray for my family.
This move is especially insidious for two reasons. The first reason is obvious; Leslie and his family own the property and no one should be able to tell him what to do on it — especially due to the fact they are a struggling family during unprecedented times.
The second reason is that Leslie checked the law before making these moves and he is following it.
According to a report last year from WSB-TV, Leslie says he checked the county codes before buying the land. He showed them the section that allows for “single-family dwellings” in an agricultural district, under which his property is designated. Under the county’s definition for “dwellings” it specifically includes “manufactured homes, mobile homes, industrialized buildings, and recreational vehicles.”
“It showed that we could have our animals here and be in our camper temporarily. So that’s the reason we moved out,” Leslie said.
Despite following the law as stated above, Leslie’s citation is for “living in campers/RV.”
“This is a question about property rights,” said attorney Ari Bargil with the Institute for Justice. “Mr. Leslie owns the property on which he situated his camper. And as a result, he has the right to live there, as long as he’s not harming anybody through his use.”
According to WSB-TV, the county manager, the police chief and the county commission chair all refused to comment on the case but Polk County police chief Kenny Dodd had no problem standing behind the move.
In an email to the news station, Dodd cited several codes for kicking the family off their own property, extorting them, and threatening to steal their property.
According to WSB-TV, one states, “temporary buildings and trailers shall not be allowed in any district except when utilized for construction site contracting work.”
Another requires that “single family dwellings contain 12-hundred square feet minimum.”
Chief Dodd also referenced section 700.03, which lists the purpose of the codes to include “aesthetic values of land and property,” WSB-TV reported.
But constitutional experts disagree. Bargil pointed out that there is no legitimate basis for them to kick the family from their property.
“There is nothing that says that he can or cannot have a camper on his property,” Bargil said. “They’re trying to compile this mishmash of ordinance applications in order to be able to say you can’t do this. But the reality is that this is a unique use of property. It’s one that’s not contemplated by the city’s ordinances. And for that reason alone, it should be allowed, at least temporarily.”
One would think that the media coverage on the case, coupled with the egregious nature of kicking a family off their own property for trying to survive during a pandemic, would make officials rethink their move. However, one would be wrong.
For the last year, the family has been reaching out to their representatives — like they are supposed to do — and it’s been crickets. This seems like a case their congresswoman would be all over as she purports to be a champion of the people who fights for property rights but Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has been silent.