Editorial/Op

Do We Want Economic Development?

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An Editorial by Dave Freneaux

    When my daughter was six years old I had every intention that she would eventually grow up to be a mature, well educated woman…but I did not give my six year old the car keys and tell her to go out and get a job.  My goal was to help guide her development, growth and education so that she was prepared at each age to handle the challenges she would face.  At times, I felt she was growing up too fast, and I could gently apply the brakes, but I could not stop her from growing up.  At other times, I felt she was not growing up fast enough, and I had to gently push her so that she was prepared for the next stage of her life, often against her will, but for her own good.  That, in a simple analogy, is Economic Development.

    It is simply not possible for Central to survive with zero Economic Development.  I see lines being drawn in Central, and on one side people are loudly proclaiming a desire to stay a quiet rural community with plenty of farm land and oak trees.  On the other side the call is to build a tax base that can support the school system and the resulting growth and infrastructure demands.  I have friends on both sides of the line and I hear both arguments, and they are both right.

    The question, as I see it, is not WHETHER to encourage Economic Development, it is HOW QUICKLY and IN WHAT WAYS.  Regardless of WHAT will be done, the process of intentionally planning Central’s Economic Development needs to move forward.  If those who are willing to pitch in and assist with the process will come to the table with an open mind, hear differing viewpoints, and seek consensus, Central has a good chance at making sound decisions.  As those decisions are made, we have the opportunity to look beyond our own desires and build a community that meets the needs of our children and grandchildren.

    Part of me wanted my six year old to stay Daddy’s little girl forever, but now she is grown and I am glad I did not interfere with that unstoppable progression.  Central’s first schoolhouse was a slice of 1900’s Americana, but could never have prepared our children for the technological and educational demands of 2011.  Central’s eight roads and 100 family farms of 1920 are the roots of a great city, but could not support the conveniences and leisure activities we enjoy today. 

    The Central community made a decision to create an independent school system and city.  That decision set economic wheels in motion that cannot be stopped, but the course and speed of those wheels can be influenced.  Central’s schools will grow.  People will build more houses.  New businesses will open.  Our ordinances will provide guidance and government agencies may facilitate discussion, but the direction of this community will ultimately be determined by our citizens. The cost of education, lifestyle and convenience will ultimately be paid through Economic Development or through taxes.  The challenge is to come to the table with our preferences pencilled in, and a willingness to hear other ideas and find the Economic Development solutions that are right for the community as a whole.  Like my daughter years ago, our Central is only a six year old, and we CAN have an influence on her as she grows, but we can’t stop her from growing up.

6 Comments

  1. Mike Mannino

    July 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Great summary of both positions Dave. Realistically, neither side will get all they want out of this. How far and how fast becomes the real question that can be sensibly debated. As long as there is a thought process and planning behind how we proceed, things will go much easier with less turmoil. The Master Plan is a great start. Street planning with that would be an enhancement. Ordinances detailing requirements for infrastructure needs for develoments another. Restrictions on traffic counts that are based on real assumptions of peak loading. Lots of effort went into the master plan but it appears we have stopped and started in the direction of Economic Development. Till there is a clear story to tell about what we need and why with clear benefits, there will be little support for development.

  2. Another Central resident

    July 21, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Is Central willing to delay development until proper infrastructure is in place. Too many times I have seen communities develop, develop, develop to get the tax dollars in the system but when it was time to improve infrastructure the cost of right-of-way and utility relocation depleted the coffers quicker than anticipated.

    If Central is not willing to wait than, it will have to set strict guidlines that parking lots and building improvements can not be closer than a certain distance to the existing roads in order to perserve the cooridor for future expansion. The question becomes can the city pass an ordinance/amend unified development code and enforce it. Next would be, is the council/P&Z willing to take a strong stance against property owners who will request waivers that would put future infrastructure improvements at financial risk. This is a slippery slope but is necessary for future growth.

  3. Mike Mannino

    July 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    ACR,

    There are many ways to do exactly what you mention that will pass legal muster. One is growth boundries and the other Infrastrucure Concurrency. Both are designed to contain growth to managable, cost efficient means for a city. Growth Boundries is self explanatory and just means you put boundries between heavy growth areas and the suburbs. People moving into the suburbs can feel confident the area they move into is protected from the dense development of the city centers. Infrastructure Concurrency puts all the responsibility on the developers to provide the infrastructure needs they create including roads. Road capacity is rated at peak times instead of total capacity which is the way we do it today and end up with traffic jams. This has a chilling affect on developing huge subdivisions way out of the city that require massive outlays for city services on the back of taxpayers. Second, it keeps the prices in these areas at a premium because of the cost to develop. There are volumes of material to read about pros and cons of developement, how to restrict and manage yet generate tax revenue and so on. Bottom line, we have a ton of planning that needs to be done before jumping off into Econonomic development. Money spent now to plan is well worth the end result. There is a compromise position here that some of us wont be happy with but can live with. To take a hard stance like I would want that says stop now is not acheiveable nor reasonable so its better to get what we can that acheives most of what we want. Just a Master plan is not going to do it. We are heading for some lawsuits from developers if we dont get some clear parameters in our ordinances that will restrict development or we will end up approving things we cant support or we dont want.

  4. Because I Care

    July 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Good article and good comments above!
    Lots of differing viewpoints to consider regarding economic development in Central. I think compromise all around IS the best path forward regarding this concern.

  5. Kayla Hammons

    July 21, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Mr. Dave,
    This is an exquisite article that I believe truly is unbiased to a “side” in Central. Myself along with many others I have talked to want nothing more than for the “sides” of Central to come together on a middle grounded agreement involving the development etc in our community. I agree with you that Central must contain development in order to survive, and also agree that there is too much development going on too fast with no planning as Mr. Mike stated.
    In the Eco-friendly environment that we live in today cutting down more trees and killing more animals and their habitats seems unacceptable in my opinion. Our wildlife is residence of Central as much as our human occupancies are. There are many older buildings that can be restored or torn down and built on top of the existing sites. I understand in many cases this will cost more money but the outcome in the end is much greater and we won’t disturb as but of Central’s natural habitat. Just a little food for though for everyone!
    -Kayla

  6. Kayla Hammons

    July 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Residents* and as many*
    excuse me for my typos… I’m posting from my phone

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