Monday, August 15, 2005

Planning by Doing Nothing

A story in yesterday's Standard-Examiner about the difference between two communities in west Weber County and how they approach a future alignment for the Legacy Highway, is a good example of the challenges we face in planning coherently for regional facilities, when we are fragmented into so many individual local governments.

In a nutshell, one community (Hooper) is recognizing the inevitablity of future growth and the need for another transportation corridor. The city is doing some innovative stuff to preserve the corridor, like offering developers bonus densities in other areas in return for not building in the future corridor. Way to go, Hooper!

In contrast, West Haven is ignoring the issue, allowing new development in the identified corridor. "'We're doing nothing to preserve the Legacy,' city planner Steve Anderson bluntly stated." West Haven officials say that they are not even sure where the corridor will ultimately be, because it has changed around several times in recent years, so why should they impose on private property owners to preserve it?

So this justifies not dealing with it? In some ways, communities can pre-determine where a roadway will go in the future by doing what Hooper does, because when the state gets around to building the road in future years, there will be one clear place to put it -- where there is no development!

This reminds me of many similar instances I've seen over my years as a planner, where one community plans a major road or facility that needs to go into a neighboring community, and the other community either doesn't want it there, or (more likely) is sticking their heads in the sand about growth and the need to deal with it. "If we don't do anything to even acknowledge it, then we won't get the growth," seems to be the attitude of some local officials. But guess what, it seems to show up anyway, whether you're ready or not.

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