Notes From My Knapsack 6-30-11
The Knapsack Uncomprehensive Plan – 50 cents
If you're going to write opinion and perspective in the public press, these moments come from time to time.
What at least the handful of columnists I have talked to all agree is our least favorite part of the work (other than deadlines) is when we have to disagree, out loud, with friends.
There are a number of people I consider friends on the various panels that have been working on our Granville area "comprehensive plan," and I know them all to be hard-working persons of good will who mean only the best for our lovely and lively community.
If you want to see some of the evidence of their diligent efforts, you can go to the village website: http://www.granville.oh.us/draft_comprehensive_plan/
But I must be candid if I'm to be a columnist with integrity. I'm massively underwhelmed. We've spent a great deal of money to hire people to come in as a design consultant firm and speak the obvious to us, at length.
(Cue chorus from the balcony: we've heard you preach, Gill. That's the pot calling the kettle cast iron!)
Right. A municipal comprehensive plan, like a zoning code, exists in many cases to define and refine the obvious, because of those charming folks known by the blanket term "developers." I've written elsewhere on this, but basically, I mean them no ill, either: developers develop.
Since their goals are to a) develop, in order to b) make a buck, their interest in long term community health is often not what it could be. They often say c) we care about this community, and that's why we want to do a) – to which I refer you back to b). Anyhow.
If you don't lay out this stuff, developers will cry foul if you try to stop them from putting a pink five story pachinko parlor in the middle of downtown, saying that you let a two story tan building go in down the block, so ipso facto and Q.E.D. (in legal terms). Hence the obtuse & lengthy articulation of the apparent.
None of which makes me feel better reading pages and pages of "if wishes were horses we'd all ride to town." For the fifty cents it costs to get a Sentinel, I'd propose this simple plan:
I. Downtown Granville shall look generally like something Norman Rockwell arguably might paint. No element of this plan shall be construed to prevent the streets from being turned to a variety of public uses, which reminds everyone from truck drivers to local folk in a hurry that public purposes are why we have a village core in the first place. Retail also has a place, as evidenced by many Rockwell works which can be consulted as to drug stores & soda fountains & small, cramped police stations.
II. The residential part of the village surrounding downtown shall faintly resemble a Thomas Kinkade "artwork." Additions, outbuildings, & solar panels are only allowed if they do not block the slanting rays of "the golden hour" from charmingly illuminating the streetscapes.
III. Denison University is understood to be a vital engine of innovation, diversity, and economic energy for the village, and hence will be cut some slack, understanding that the closer to the downtown, the less slack shall be cut, but don't take it personally.
IV. Business is icky, but necessary, and we'll find a place for you somewhere, ideally way out there at the edges, unless you can masquerade somewhere on the Rockwell-Kinkade spectrum.
V. The farther from Main & Broadway you get, the bigger we expect house lots to become, until the lawns become golf courses or farms that have no odor to speak of (or smell of).
That would work for me, but they tell me it's not legally enforceable. Plus, I think roundabouts are kind of cool, plus they work if you give 'em a chance. It's probably just as well I wasn't on the committee.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he's on the BZBA for the village, which should probably worry you. Tell him your worries at email@example.com, or follow Knapsack @Twitter.