DON'T DISCARD THE CITY'S GROWTH PLAN
October 30, 2017.
Conventional wisdom says that those who fail to plan, plan to fail: The city's current comprehensive growth plan was over 15 years in the making by numerous town hall meetings, citizen surveys, and stakeholder meetings -- not to mention tens of thousands of tax dollars spent on professional planning consultants.
But now some citizens and even city leaders often refer to it as irrelevant, moot; a steady stream of property owners and neighborhood groups come before them requesting exemptions or waivers, some who had donated generously during the previous political season.
For instance, one commercial rezoning request on north Greeno Road has already been approved this year and more are pending, but if residential apartments had been allowed there (as was proposed at one time) then none would ever have even been considered marketable along Fly Creek or on South Section Street (now under construction) -- and, to the north on U.S. 98, pressure from an adjoining neighborhood caused a new subdivision to be approved on a dead-end street, ultimately needlessly leading to more traffic problems on U.S. 98.
While legally non-binding in and of itself, comprehensive plans are still legal documents developed in a democratic fashion under state law: ours represents the opinion of the majority of citizens in town, but who may not actually be in the room at the time the exemption-requests are considered by the planning commission and city council.
Maybe, actually doing the hard and expensive work of land use planning but then not following through with it is worse than not planning at all, a failure of leadership.
A better approach would to be to amend the Plan if necessary, but in the same transparent and democratic manner that it was developed.