Monday, November 27, 2006

Don't Discourage Responsible Developers

The lead editorial in today’s Richmond Times Dispatch, titled “Charettes”, demonstrates the TD’s inability to understand that land developers have responsibilities other than making money. For those of you, like the Maven, who have never heard the word before, charettes are community meetings held to get public input concerning a specific project. The TD sees charettes as a form of market research that can increase the profits of investors. The TD also sees them as good public relations, giving neighbors of the proposed development the feeling that they have some influence in the final project.

However, the TD objects to charettes if they, in fact, allow neighbors of the project to have any say in the development. In the TD’s words, charettes are a problem if they give the impression that those affected by the project “ought to have as much of a role in making the final determination as investors. But, while developers are wise to welcome input from anyone who is interested, the final decision belongs to those who have put their good money down.”

The TD’s “the public be damned” attitude is very fitting for the late nineteenth century. It is the kind of attitude that when applied to land development creates all the nightmares that our friends in Northern Virginia are living now. After spending ten or more hours each week just getting to and from work, I am sure the Virginians up north are so happy that developers were never required to be responsible to the community.

Let me put this in terms that the TD understands—dollars. The taxpayers of Virginia will inevitably have to pay billions of dollars to fix the transportation mess that uncontrolled development has caused in Northern Virginia. Further, if we have uncontrolled development in Henrico and Chesterfield counties, the taxpayers will have to put down more money to fix those problems.

Unfortunately our less-than-great metropolitan daily is too blinded by dollar signs to recognize that developers can, and should be, responsible to the community in which they choose to build. Kudos to the developers of Three Acre Farm for their desire to be responsible developers and good neighbors.

No comments: