The recent joint Board of Commissioner & Planning Commission meeting was a great re-start to dialogue regarding smart growth. The key now is agreeing on a road map to ensure this conversation moves forward and these principles become applied.
This isn't the first time these conversations have taken place. In a way it's like the movie groundhog day. People get frustrated and the smart growth conversation starts. Then, nothing happens and the work/conversation is shelved. Hopefully this time is different. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and am cautiously optimistic.
Here is a brief overview of the meeting:
Twsp. planner Sara Paindl gave a presentation outlining smart growth principles. The first portion reviewed the 10 principles of Smart Growth. She outlined each principle and how she felt the township addresses some points, could do better on others and lacks on some. In my opinion Paindl gave an honest assessment. The concepts are right on the money with what needs to happen. The commissioners that were present were saying the right things. Again the question now is how do we get them to follow through?
It was very clear the planning commission is on board to restart these discussions. That is important. There was definitely more agreement in the room then disagreement. The broad concepts are hard to argue. Most everyone agrees on what makes a community nice and what doesnt. The key, as Commissioner Lanscek stated a few times is taking the discussion and moving it into the ordinances.
Other items discussed:
500 year floodplain regulations
President Eichenberg opened discussion on possible changes to the 500 year floodplain. Many at the table cautioned against this. We have in LMT one of the most stringent floodplain protection measures in the state. This is a good thing. It's hard to imagine how much more severe our flooding issues would be if this were not the case. It's a safe bet if the Jaindl development moves forward it will only get worse. We must continue to protect residents and businesses that are located along the floodplains.
Rt. 100 zoning change request.
The 8 acre parcel where the owner has requested a zoning change from agriculture to commercial was briefly discussed. The general consensus in the room was to wait until the outcome of the Jaindl case to proceed since much of the argument made was to bring this parcel in line with the upzoned 14 acre Jaindl tract next to it.
Ownership of Retention Ponds
Planning commission member Mr. Dekker brought up ownership of retention ponds. I see this as being a big issue moving forward. All of Mr. Dekkers points were valid. HOA's do not have the resources (100's of thousands of dollars) or know-how to maintain ponds. They are too important in terms of regulating storm water to ignore. This of course leaves the bill to the community. It's a tricky issue stemming from years of hyper growth and something we need to deal with. This is something I've talked about many times before. The lifecycle costs of a development once the developer leaves town and the project must be maintained by somebody.