Saturday, April 09, 2005

Wal-Mart and A Referendum: What Happened in Vermont

Bennington Banner - Today's Headlines

What a combination -- a referendum in Bennington, Vermont, to overturn an ordinance passed by the City Council limiting the size of big box stores. A good example of the wisdom of the electorate? People want Wal-Mart? A good use of the referendum law? You almost can't write fiction as good as this reality. Do we planners really know what we're doing, for the community?


At 8:10 AM, Blogger Planner Perplexed said...

Fine, if planners don't know what they are doing then let's get rid of them altogether. From what I have seen, at least in Utah, we are given token respect and very limited authority. Worse yet, planners are the ones who have to take all the flaming arrows in public. Why not just have the building inspector do the planners job. They're qualified right? C'mon there are probably a dozen planners in Utah who have no degree in Planning and who used to be inspectors "planning" their cities.

If the public wants to bring every zoning issue to the ballot box, so be it. But at what price? I shudder to think of how economic development might come to a grinding halt if every land use decision were up for public vote. While we value the ability in our nation of being able to choose our destiny through the vote, we also recognize that we live in a "representative democracy" whereby we elect individuals to make the proper decisions for us. That is how planning commissions, city councils and Congress work. Letting WalMart expand by vote is in my opinion an inefficient and expensive way to run a community. That is part of the reason we elect and appoint people to represent us, like planners.

Perhaps I am wrong on this point, but as a planner it is my job to lead, guide, advise and inform the public I work for on land use matters. Rarely are city engineers or finance directors questioned to the level that planners are in the public realm.

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