Wants vs Needs: Will Central’s Master Plan Survive?

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUEb largerMia and I raised two daughters, and I recall that children rarely “want” anything… instead they “need” it.  I can’t tell you how many times my girls “needed” a bowl of ice cream.  Three things have happened recently that have me concerned about wants, needs, and Central’s Land Use Master Plan.
    First, the majority of the new developments proposed in the last year are requesting density that exceeds the recommended zoning in the Master Plan.  The City Council has the legal right to grant that density, even if it is not consistent with the Master Plan, but I have to ask, do we “need” to deviate from the Master Plan, or do the developers just “want” to?
    Second, I attended a meeting of the Central Economic Development Committee last week and heard more than a couple of comments from city officials about “revisiting” the Master Plan.  I believe all long-term plans should be “revisited” and even changed as the city evolves.  The final step to implement Central’s Master Plan was the city-wide rezoning of less than two years ago.  Is it possible that Central has evolved so much in twenty-two months that the Master plan “needs” revisiting, or is this another “want”?
    Third, Mayor Shelton addressed that same Economic Development Committee and stated emphatically, “We will make this city grow.”  Clearly the Mayor has decided that he “wants” the city to grow, but does Central “need” the growth this administration “wants”?
    The Master Plan allows for growth in every area of our 66 square miles.  That plan also limits the type and density of growth in each area to avoid urban sprawl, limit traffic, and preserve the quiet atmosphere of the city.  I am concerned that proposed developments, as well as comments from city officials, indicate a “want” to develop Central where it is most convenient or profitable instead of a “need” to develop in accordance with the Master Plan.
    I believe we are witnessing the beginning of an effort to re-define the future of the city by either ignoring or changing the Master Plan.  If the plan needs changing, I want to know why.  Is the Master Plan that took three years of community participation to develop somehow no longer a good idea?  Has something unexpected happened in just two years that would warrant changing that plan?
    I oppose wanting to “make this city grow.”  I support needing to “let this community grow” at a natural pace, consistent with the Master Plan.  Knowing the difference between “wants” and “needs” would be Good News for a Great City.


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