I have been dealing with county land-use permitting issues since 1995 as an agent for folks processing land use permits. I have been a proponent of zoning for quite some time – not a one-type-fits-all, but different zoning for different parts of the county. Zoning would seem one way to bring organization, fairness, transparency and predictability to our land-use planning and permitting process, all lacking in our process now.
Most recently, I was a volunteer member of the working group of the just-shelved proposed comprehensive plan. I can relate that very early on some of us encouraged the planners to use the “z” word and be very up front about what we were trying to accomplish.
We also urged them to be careful about including items in the comp plan that were outside of or at best questionable as to county government’s legal jurisdiction, its ability to perform, or its having the expertise to perform or having the funds to support. Unfortunately, most of these suggestions were not seriously considered.
Both sides of the arguments about the comprehensive plan’s content were short-changed: One view saw too much being loaded into what could become an obligation (however “conceptual”) on the part of the taxpayers and property owners and the opposing view saw an opportunity to include a variety of ideas without a clear avenue for promoting, financing or incentivizing them.
But I also think it is an ideal time to realize the limits of government and look into private collaborative processes for dealing with the lean times. The challenge is for us to rise above partisan concerns and take on some of the old (cooperatives, diverse local agriculture, etc.) and some of the new – village building, support of lean but sufficient lifestyles, etc., to help everyone.