Sunday, July 30, 2006

Doug Zweizig's Comments On The Adoption Of Evansville's Smart Growth Plan

Fred has the full text of Doug Zweizig's comments from one year ago when the Council approved and adopted the Smart Growth Plan. Here are some excerpts:

We might think about how we would describe the process through which planning and development decisions have been made in this community, for, without careful attention to change, that process is most likely to be the way in which decisions continue to be made. If I were to characterize the existing process, I would describe it as opportunistic, short sighted, and secretive.

“Opportunistic” in the sense that decisions are made on the basis of which property becomes available at a particular time. Then energies are focused on how to move that project along with little attention to whether such a project had been thought desirable in the existing plan. In fact, the efforts appear to be directed to altering the plan to meet the opportunity rather than shaping the opportunity to conform to the plan. At the time that the Smart Growth Committee was meeting to design a future for Evansville that would reflect the desires of its residents, the Plan Commission was greatly changing that future by amending the Master Plan to respond to an opportunity. [snip]

...when the plan is implemented, the process becomes non-participatory. Information is shared by rumor, rather than openly and accurately. When notices of hearing appear in the Review, they are incomprehensible to this citizen because they use the legally required references to the property with no explanation of the location that I would understand and use illegible maps, and of course, by the time the hearing notice is published, the decision makers appear to be invested in the project, and reservations seem pointless. [snip]

So my point tonight is that unless attention is paid to how decisions are being made about land uses in Evansville, the fate of this fresh plan is likely to be that of its predecessors.In a fine article in support of Smart Growth that appeared in the Janesville Gazette, Janis Ringhand referred to the plan being considered tonight as “a living document.” Of course, she meant that the plan would need to be regularly reviewed and revised as conditions change. But I have heard others use that phrase and am concerned that for some people the phrase is taken to mean that the plan can be ignored when it’s inconvenient, just as previous plans have been. Of course, the plan will need evolve; the test is whether the manner of changing the plan honors the wishes of the community as well as the original Smart Growth plan. You can read the rest at Fred's .

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