Measure Twice, Cut Once

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Posting on behalf of Kim Rosenberg.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

My dad taught me to read a tape measure when I was a kid. He and my mom lived through the Depression and they didn’t waste a thing. Daddy worked as a bartender but he liked to make stuff when he had free time. He was careful with his tools and his materials. He didn’t rush through a project or skip steps in order to finish up. Measure twice, cut once was his motto and I’ve found it applies to more than just carpentry.

Remember when we stopped the dune grading a little while ago? In addition to public opposition, part of the reason it was denied was the age of the last Fore Dune Management Plan, which is part of our Comprehensive Plan and equally ancient.

Dune grading has been halted until there’s an update. But if the Comp Plan and Dune Management Plan are out of date, then what about the Ordinances? Amendments have been made but how well do they reflect the Plan?

Last updated in 1996 when Beck, the Spice Girls and Tupac were on the radio, Tom Cruise was Jerry Maguire, and Seinfeld was on TV Thursday nights, the planning horizon for our Comp Plan ended in 2010. I was fifty. Oofta.

The stuff that doesn’t get done when it’s supposed to get done doesn’t go anywhere, right? What we put off is always waiting for us like that nasty unknown goop in the yogurt container at the back of your fridge. You can’t remember what’s in there but it’s not going away on its own and it’s going to stink to high heaven when you pop that top.

The Planning Commission has tools they use when approving or denying applications–the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which is the primary land use document and the Ordinances, which are the rules that create the vision the plan describes.

But what if the tools no longer work well together? How does the Planning Commission make critical decisions regarding development when the tools they have are an out of date Comprehensive Plan and its amended Ordinances?

At the last Planning Commission meeting there was a brief discussion of the Plan as it relates to open green space and the development of a hotel at Dorcas and Classic. The City Planner spoke a little about the vagaries of the Plan and the legality of the ordinances. One of the Commissioners said something I’ve thought a lot about–just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do something. Amen.

When the Ordinances are clearly not in compliance with the Plan, what’s a Commissioner supposed to do?

During the meeting the City Planner said that in making their decisions the Planning Commission should rely on Ordinances. Ordinances are law but so is the Plan.
I’ve italicized wording from the first two pages of the Comp Plan. The Plan has the force of law and overrides other city ordinances, such as zoning, subdivision or other ordinances when there is a conflict and is the means by which conflicts are resolved.

I hope when faced with difficult decisions the Planning Commission will use all the tools available when something comes up they’re unsure of.

I don’t think all development is bad but I do think development without a plan that reflects a community’s vision is shortsighted and unwise. Buildings are permanent structures. They change the land and once they’re up, there’s no easy way to undo any damage done. Isn’t it better to slow down and take the time to do things right? Measure twice, cut once.

Kim Rosenberg.