Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bentonville General Plan

It's late notice, but I wanted to remind all of you Bentonville residents about the next meetings in the General Planning Process today at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church on NE J Street. I meant to write about this sooner, but it sort of fell by the wayside in the midst of other business, the World Cup included.

These meetings mark the point where the process starts to become more fun. Everyone who shows up (at either session) will be asked to gather around several tables with maps of the city on them, and mark out with colored squares where they think future development should happen, and what that should look like.

Anyway, in case you missed it you can read about in a weekend Daily Record story:

"BENTONVILLE — On Tuesday, residents will color-code a map — and determine the future of Bentonville.

In a hands-on public workshop, Bentonville residents are invited to give their opinion on the General Plan, a far-reaching land-use document being updated this year.

Public input is crucial to the process. "This is really an opportunity for citizens to become involved in the future of the community that they live in," said Planning Services Manager Shelli Rushing. "If people are concerned about what’s going to happen in the future for this community, this is the chance...."

The General Plan is a comprehensive document that meshes ihttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifssues such as zoning, land use, transporta- tion and parks. It will provide a list of prioritized goals, and consider details like aesthetics, design guidelines and pedestrian walkability. Normally updated every five years, this General Plan will extend to 2030."

There will be two sessions today, the first at 3 p.m., and the second at 7 p.m. Planners are allowing for around two hours at each session, though they anticipate that they won't take nearly that long. (Map to church here)

So here is your chance, citizens of Bentonville. Here's your chance to throw your two cents into the discussion on the future of this city that we all call home. Do you want to turn into Springdale by 2030, or do you prefer the tree-lined mixed-use streets of downtown Fayetteville?

Tired of traffic and strip malls fronting every major thoroughfare? Be sure to come tonight and voice your opinion. It doesn't have to be that way. But nothing will ever change unless citizens make their opinions known.

(You can also be sure to tell everyone that you'd LOVE to have a planning commission that won't promptly disregard our hard work and ignore the General Plan, just like they have with the last one, but that's another post for another day....)

In case you want to read about what these meetings might be like, albeit on a much larger scale, check out this story in the Baltimore Sun. Maryland is undergoing a similar process for the whole state, with meetings all over the region for citizens:
"If you think the Baltimore-Washington area is too crowded, just where would you put an additional 1.2 million people if you had to?

That was the challenge taken up yesterday by 250 planners, developers, community activists and elected officials from throughout Central Maryland.

United by little more than a belief that the region cannot afford to keep growing the way it has been, people frequently at odds over development plans hunched over tables in the Baltimore Convention Center and played a good-natured planning game with a serious intent.

Stacking colored Legos like poker chips on a giant map of the region, they pondered and debated where to put the increased population projected for the next 25 years, inside or outside the beltways girdling Baltimore and Washington, or along major highway and rail corridors. Plastic toy blocks of different colors represented housing and jobs....

In a tacit recognition of the public's concern, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, who are vying for the Democratic nomination for governor this year, showed up to welcome the crowd and to promote their records as advocates for sensible growth.

"We need to do thinking outside the box," Duncan told the group. "The jobs are coming; the people are coming. Where are we going to put them all?"

O'Malley, who followed Duncan to the podium, acknowledged the concerns of suburban residents about traffic congestion and overcrowded schools. He urged participants to put their job and housing Legos on the map inside Baltimore, saying the city is pushing redevelopment in a bid to rebuild its population. "We welcome it," he said.

In interviews, Duncan and O'Malley criticized the growth-management policies of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., saying he has cut funds for preserving land from development while not doing enough to promote transit or redevelopment.

"We need to get back to Smart Growth policies in the state," Duncan said, referring to the pioneering sprawl-fighting laws adopted a decade ago under Democratic Gov. Parris N. Glendening..."

See you tonight.

read more: bentonville, general plan, development, growth