Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Dec. 1, 2021

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Press Talk: Land-use planning class is in session

By , Columbian Editor
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Good morning, class. I’m professor Brancaccio. Welcome to Land-Use Planning 101.

This course happens to be particularly relevant now, because there is a big fight going on relative to how Clark County should be developed.

So, in addition to moving forward in obtaining your degree at Brancaccio University, after this class you will be better able to appreciate the land-use planning controversy that has befallen us.

• • •

Class, let me set the stage for the importance of land use planning.

Too many simply take for granted the water running to our homes or the fire department’s services.

You shouldn’t. These services are there primarily because of solid land-use planning.

Before I open it up for a robust discussion, let me give you some perspective on the history of land-use planning.

Modern land-use planning really began in Chicago with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. The premise was pretty simple: make living as enjoyable as possible. A key to that enjoyment was livable spaces.

Most important in those livable spaces was a clean, safe, healthy environment.

Before the World’s Exposition, little attention was paid to the infrastructure of a city. Homes and businesses were built. But how those buildings received clean water and disposed of their waste was a crapshoot.

So it was really a product of land-use planning that created livable cities.

OK, thoughts?

Steven? “Thank you, professor. If we fast-forward 123 years from the World’s Exposition, what have we learned?”

Excellent point. And actually a key point. Does anyone know? Danni?”

“One of the lessons learned is, not only is it important to provide key services, but buildings must be put up in a way that those services can get to them.”

Thanks much. What exactly is Danni getting at? Noodles?

“I believe the point here is, it’s one thing to say a house should have sewer and water service, but it’s another thing to actually deliver it.”

Well, what makes that difficult? Fernando?

“You simply don’t snap your fingers and get waste treatment service. Lines have to be dug and put in, then those lines have to serviced. And you need a waste treatment plant nearby.”

Correct. Now we’re getting somewhere. What makes getting those services easier? Hannah?

“As a real estate friend once told me, ‘Location, location, location.’ ”

Exactly! And what does Hannah mean by location? Jimmy?

“Sounds to me like in order to deliver infrastructure services to homes and business at a reasonable cost, they have to be concentrated in areas like cities and nearby suburbs.”

Jimmy! Ring the bell! That’s it! OK, so let’s bring this discussion home. What’s going on here locally? Jake?

“Well, from what I’m reading, Councilor David Madore — against the advice of his own professional planning department — is trying to open up more building outside of these cities and suburbs. I’m guessing he thinks he knows more than his professional planners.”

Easy, Jake. No need to go down that road. Fernando?

“But professor, is Madore simply trying to give some rights to folks who have land out in the middle of no place who are trying to sell off some of it to make money?”

Remi?

“Professor, I may have been born on a Tuesday, but I wasn’t born last Tuesday. There is more going on here other than Madore trying to help ‘his’ people.”

Interesting. Like what, Remi?

“Essentially, this is a rural versus urban fight. As noted here in class, professor, smart land-use planning says building should be concentrated in urban areas in order to provide better infrastructure. Madore dreamed up Alternative 4 to allow more building outside of urban areas.”

But why, Remi?

“Madore is the prototypical political bad actor. Urban voters figured out long ago Madore was nothing more than just a guy doing stupid stuff. So he realizes his only hope to survive politically is to shore up his rural voting base. That’s what Alternative 4 does.”

Jimmy, ring that dang bell again! Remi’s onto something.

So how does this all end up? Danni?

“Well, if I were a betting woman, I’d bet the county council will deep-six Madore’s crazy Alternative 4, handing him yet another setback.”

Jimmy? Final thoughts?

“Oh, my!”

Class dismissed.

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