To the editor:
Recent city zoning actions on West Sixth Street have nothing to do with city planning or urban design. They simply follow the recent pattern of replacing good planning principals with “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Let’s face it; our plans mean nothing. Land-use decisions depend on what the developer can bring to the table. Whenever a proposal is contrary to the “plan,” the plan is amended after the decision, unless the applicant has fallen out of favor with commissioners.
Planning is no longer part of the process prior to the land use decision. Plans are considered to be mere encumbrances and obstacles to be dealt with after the decision is made. Our professional planners are charged not with “planning” but with creating reactive mechanisms to navigate the maze of non-compliance without embarrassing the commissioners. Too often, land use decisions are accomplished with a wink and a nod outside of the planning process.
City planning should create stability. Folks should have reasonable expectations of how the future will impact their investments, and what the surrounding environment will be. That will no longer the case in Lawrence, if we continue to eschew planning principles in favor of “Let’s Make a Deal.”
We are losing the opportunity to design inviting gateways along major streets leading into Lawrence. We continue to create trashy gauntlets of “strip malls” and “big box stores” that must be painfully navigated before a visitor arrives at the jewel that is the true City of Lawrence.