Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Infill" tration v. Sprawl

(I love it…infill tration. It isn’t mine. It came from a letter in the March 2006 issue of Planning magazine.)

What defines the soul of a community? Is it the living patterns of people or the relationship between multi-dimensional forms in relation to space over time? I think it is a combination of both.
Within Chesterfield are many diverse communities; each with its own distinct character. People that have lived in a community for years easily recall a time when the visual characteristics of the community were different.
Change is inevitable and humans are usually hesitant to embrace it. As the county grows, logic dictates and the Comprehensive Plan suggests, development be guided to infill areas. The costs associated with extending facilities and services beyond planned areas create problems for both taxpayers and government officials. No locality can afford to recklessly abandon any particular area in favor of the next, best, bigger trend. Eliminating blight is far more expensive than preventing it.

However, there are problems associated with infill tration as well. The existing residents have little say in what happens to their surroundings. Additional noise, traffic, loss of privacy (if site location and design are poor) and the shrinking of everything green have a significant impact. I think it is a territorial thing. “Not in my backyard” is overused. I think it would be beneficial for local officials to investigate the reasons behind the concerns.

There is a middle ground. Safety needs to be paramount and the system should be fair to the existing residents and the development community; even if it means denying a rezoning, conditional use, variance, or site plan when necessary.

Oh, by the way… Could we PLEASE stop abusing deferrals? Can we adopt an ordinance that places stringent criteria on when a deferral can be used? Couldn’t the “standing” test be used as a template? Ordinances …a topic I will visit soon.

1 comment:

  1. Another great post!

    Thanks for fighting this issue. I can't believe that the BCA won't support you on this.