Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Building Community

We went to a little neighborhood gathering this evening, from an interesting source. Ours is a little group of only about 20 homes, hemmed in by highways on two sides, steep hills rising up to government land on a third, and mostly undeveloped space over a ridge to the Indian Colony on the fourth side. It's a semi-rural area of small homes spread out on large lots, zoned for horses and other small farm use.

Urban sprawl has sent commercial development creeping along the highway frontage over time. As the older neighbors die or move away, developers have started eying the large lots up for sale with designs on multiplying their investment by breaking up the lots into smaller sections. The lack of infrastructure has been a stopping point for some - there is no sewer system here, and it was only in the last two years that city water lines have been laid.

Of course, we all noticed when a new house started going up on an empty parcel just down the street. Then, a couple of weeks ago we received notice that the builders of that house are now petitioning the Planning Commission for permission to cluster seven more homes there - concentrating them in a much higher density than the norm because so much of the property is too steep to build on. So they invited the neighbors to an Open House tonight - a chance to show us what they want to do, let us ask questions, and to address any of our concerns.

I really appreciated the gesture. It was a marked contrast to the outrageously high-density project across the street from us. In that case, the developers snuck around the neighborhood, asking who wanted to sell out and telling all to keep their talks a secret. Of course, that only worked for the first one to sell - once everyone else started comparing stories we all agreed those developers weren't to be trusted. Our distrust was well-founded. We had a lot of unresolved issues with that project, voiced them to the Planning Commission, and the zoning change was denied. But those developers made some backroom deals with the City, went over the heads of the Planning Commissioners and got their plans approved, ignoring the concerns of everyone else in the neighborhood.

That was two years ago. But then, the housing market tanked, they have yet to break ground, and their permit expires later this year. I really hope they've gone bust, the lying snakes. And this past election, one of the incumbent City Council members that approved the project got ousted. Instant Karma - don't you just love it! I have a couple of issues with these latest plans, so will be at the Planning Meeting next week. But I do think it was a nice thing for these developers to do, and it made for a nice chance to visit with the neighbors too.


Valerie said...

We have 200 acres that used to be a farm behind us. We are worried that it will turn in to a subdivision. We have heard that the guy that owns it is not well and wants to sell. I would hate to see that so I understand your frustrations. How did I miss that last post? I try to keep up with you. I love the stickers on the calendar idea. I am using my blog to show if I reach my goals or not. I have only walked 1 day this week. It helps to have some kind of incentive.

Nancy M. said...

I guess at least this time you'll have a chance to talk about your concerns instead of them hiding everything. I wish I could buy the land beside me and across for me, so it would stay undeveloped.