Monday, May 19, 2008
Understanding what is beneath the surface necessity of good planning
Fran Alexander sums up biggest problem with Aspen Ridge/Hill Place site
"Fayetteville is long overdue in identifying what functions the different types of land and soil within our urban area are performing and then making that information really matter in urban planning. Generally we do not think "big picture "as a community in the physical sense, as a whole unit that will be seriously affected by the digging, filling, draining, dredging, scraping and building. We deflect discussions about land function because it is a really hot issue with property owners who want to utilize what they own in any way they desire, no matter how that use may impact neighbors or the town's taxpayers. And we certainly maintain a state of denial when it comes to what lies beneath the land. A favorite word in city government, infrastructure, needs to be applied more broadly than for just defining roads, sewers, pipelines, etc. so that natural systems are recognized and accorded their importance in the physical place where we all live, and which is molded by our actions.
We spend most of our public decision-making at the planning commission and city council levels, where longterm planning like the 2025 City Plan is referenced regularly. Often discussions that begin about land use and suitability wind up being about how our city plan calls for infill to avoid urban sprawl, as if these two topics were about the same thing. They are not. One is about the reality of what we have physically available in Fayetteville both above and below ground level. Discussing what we want to build has traditionally been more about design and scope than what the land can tolerate and still deliver to humans in its natural role in the environment. We need to get our heads and actions straight on these two very different, yet intertwined, issues."