At the ‘smart growth workshop‘ meeting this past Tuesday one of our volunteer planners said point blank that he ‘has concerns with the current board of commissioners being too accessible to developers.’ That the process has become “backwards”.
I tend to agree with this assessment and feel as though the Allen Organ project is the prime example. After having attended or watched every BOC meeting either in person or via webcast over the last 2 years I have witnessed this first hand.
Our current board is consistenly deferential to developers. Why? There is a difference between handing out gifts and landowner’s rights. Ron Eichenberg and Roger Reis the prior two presidents of the board who in turn speak for the board have and will continue to attempt to blur that important distinction in the upcoming election. The residents having a voice in the way we grow is consistently circumvented.
Yes, landowners have rights. That is a fundamental American value. I have personally advocated for protecting them. The solutions I have proposed are market based. Solutions such as transferable development rights programs. I can’t think of a solution more soundly grounded in conservative principle then one that solves our open space preservation issues with a market based solution.
As a commissioner I will not vote to hand out intensity/density without proper rationalization and due diligence. I will not allow a sketch plan to dictate a critical new zoning ordinance.
Free market solutions such as a TDR program will eliminate even the appearance of cronyism. If the township creates a mechanism for landowners to be compensated for development rights in addition for developers to be able to purchase intensity, then the appearance of cronyism when we simply hand it out for nothing is eliminated.
The landowner get fairly compensated, the township has a mechanism to guide growth to appropriate places and finally residents have a fair way to encourage open space preservation and protect our school district and our community.