It’s time for a change on the 2050 Plan — both to the document itself and officials’ approach in presenting it to the public.
The two public meetings on the plan to date have made it profoundly clear that flaws are abundant. The meetings themselves were at times nasty, a poor reflection on manners and a redundent question and answer session on TDRs and referendum questions. They did, however, seem to serve to point out that more-of-the-same isn’t an option.
The officials running the hearings have stated that certain aspects of the plan will be cut or changed from the first version of the 200-page document. So change the way you are operating currently, and take out a red pen and slash it now. No need to wait.
The 20-acre minimum lot size in the plan’s “conservation districts” won’t work, and elected officials have bluntly declared that they know that. So make it official and remove that number from the draft now. Do so now, not in a second draft to be written after three more public hearings. Why drag it out and let the public have more to complain about? It also will show that the public has been heard, you are listening.
“Density Transfer Charges” is another unpopular proposition, and another item that has been shot down by officials. Again, hit the delete button. Make them go away on paper, rather than just verbally.
“Actions speak louder than words” has become a popular idiom for a reason. Put everyone’s thoughts to rest — eliminate the reason for the bickering. Grab the white out.
And stop explaining the plan for an hour or two prior to taking comments at a public hearing. Doing that when people should have taken the time to familiarize themselves with the plan long before seems an insult. Let people start asking questions immediately. And then answer those questions.
We don’t mean to sound overly critical of the plan’s proponents. We’re more embarrassed by taxpayers’ behavior at the last public hearing in Mansfield. Heckling and shouting are beneath us as a county, aren’t they? We thought so, before Thursday at least.
It’s obvious the plan has people upset. That is OK. It’s just as obvious the plan has its faults. That’s OK, too. But dial down the rhetoric and make the changes everyone agrees upon. Find the common ground and build there.
A plan is needed for the county’s future. Simplifying the county’s zoning by consolidating everything in one document makes sense. There’s a lot of good in the 2050 plan. But there’s a lot of nonsense, too. Once we agree upon what needs to go, it should go. Don’t let the bad linger. Get rid of it and let’s move on to talking about the upsides of the plan and how to make it better.