Friday, June 15, 2007

Us vs Them

I attended the last public hearing of the Planning Board over the height restriction / anti WCI Tower zoning amendments proposed by Councilperson Mary Kay Sigaty. I testified in opposition.

It was a great place to observe the deep division in the community that the Town Center redevelopment has created, or at least has brought to the surface.

I am unashamedly biased of course but it sure seemed to me that those in favor of Councilperson Sigaty's legistlation are those who long for the Columbia of the past. They seemed generally uncomfortable with the idea of a new paradigm for Columbia.

Those who spoke in opposition to the proposed zoning amendments came off as the real visionaries. They voiced concern about how these actions would affect future generations and the continued success of the forty year old town.

Both sides are well meaning and passionate about their beliefs. One side wants to stop time and the other embraces change.

6 comments:

Tom said...

Did you expect something different?
That is what the whole downtown development issue is about. New vision vs old "I like Columbia just like it is" vision.
We have to learn that in order to stay one of the best places to live we must be open to change. So there are some obstacles to get over (density & traffic), it is our job to find solutions that will improve our ability to bypass the obstacles. There are enough smart people in this community so I am optomistic that we will solve these problems and make Columbia/Howard County an even better place to live in 10,15 & 20 years from now. Think positive!

Anonymous said...

The county blogs are skewed toward pro-tower, and there's not much balance out there.

This imbalance is not good, for many reasons.

wordbones said...

Anon 10:18

There is nothing to preclude anyone from starting a blog so if an imbalance exists it can be easily rectified.

Dave Wissing said...

I can't speak for wordbones or the other bloggers, byt just to clarify, I am not "pro-Tower". I am just not anti-tower. It makes no difference to me whether the tower gets built. In fact, I am ambivalent to the height limit legislation (ZRA 79). If it gets passed, I would not be upset.

What I am opposed to is legislation (ZRA 83) that attempts to retroactively impose height restrictions because some people decided they don't like the height or location of an apporved building.

Anonymous said...

"One side wants to stop time and the other embraces change."

That's both a too simplistic summary and an inaccurate description, too. There is such a spectrum of opinions on these matters that those two dumbed-down buckets into which you're placing everyone who has participated do a disservice to the participants and the process.

To classify those who aren't willing to accept all proposals for changing the heart of Columbia as "wanting to stop time" is laughable. Certainly you haven't or don't accept every single change that Town Center has experienced or is now seeing proposed.

No rational person accepts change solely for the sake of change. There is good change. There is bad change. It is when changes meet with the nature of the community, do not require the community to sacrifice core attributes, and do not negatively impact quality of life for the existing community that change is good and can reasonably be accepted.

Too, to so simply classify one side as that which "embraces change" implies those people would accept absolutely any change the comes down the pike. Such a group would then certainly be against any impedance to change, including zoning restrictions that keep residential areas from being developed commercially, protections against school overcrowding, protections against building so densely that traffic becomes a nightmare, laws that provide some protections against building in wetlands/stream buffers/forests, and protections against building to exceed our fresh water resources and sewage treatment capacity. Uncontrolled change isn't a panacea. If you want to put yourself in such a group, you will probably find yourself in very, very small company.

"So there are some obstacles to get over (density & traffic), it is our job to find solutions that will improve our ability to bypass the obstacles."

What some see as obstacles, others see as very necessary safeguards against putting additional burden on the existing community and decreasing quality of life. These safeguards require either including solutions to prevent negative impacts or that rightly prevent deleterious changes.

"There are enough smart people in this community so I am optomistic (sic) that we will solve these problems and make Columbia/Howard County an even better place to live in 10,15 & 20 years from now."

I, too, am optimistic our community has enough sense to continue to keep our home a thriving, sustainable environment, not just 20 years from now, but for generations to come. It's too selfish to plan for just a portion of our lifetimes.

Actos said...

nice post, it's really interesting for me today, thx