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Planning and People

We are in the embryonic stages of launching the planning portion of our Downtown Master Plan and Market Analysis. I am very excited about this upcoming project.

As the core team plans the scheduling of public engagement activities, public input meetings and benchmark timelines, I thought about why planning requires a public, people-intensive environment. Here are 6 reasons that come to mind:


  1. Planning involves matters in which people have high emotional stakes. For example, a road widening, neighborhood character, the quality of a school district, or the downtown landscaping are all affected by planning decisions.
  2. Planning decisions are visible. Whether its buildings, roads, bridges, sidewalks, or parks and greenspaces- people see the results of planning, like architecture. And it is hard to hide.
  3. The planning process is easily influenced at the local level. It is much easier to affect change at a local planning commission or a city council meeting than it is the decisions of a state legislature or Congress.
  4. Citizens know something about planning without formal study of planning. This is correct because residents live with it everyday. From land use and traffic, to community character, citizens know what they would like to see and should have a voice in what their community looks like.
  5. Planning decisions could have financial consequences. If property is re-zoned from residential to commercial or industrial, it certainly affects the land values of properties, directly and indirectly.
  6. Planning decisions affects the tax base. Land zoned industrial or commercial typically generates significant tax revenues to communities, as does residential areas. School districts do not pay property taxes. These matters are considered in the planning process.


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