Planning by popularity. MVRPC holds “community meetings.”

When there is a lack of leadership- we look to building consensus. Nothing wrong with collective hand-holding- as long as it’s in church, but when it comes to politics and policy- generally, what you get when you get a crowd together is mediocrity.

In church- you have an ultimate leader. One who clearly states what’s wrong and what’s right. In urban planning- not only do we lack a clear leader, we’ve put an impotent committee together- Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission- who then wants to hold a popularity contest- to set our course.

I’ve resisted writing about this- because, I generally like the people who work at MVRPC now. They are bright, they know what’s wrong, but, in general are powerless to really make anyone do anything.

They even reached out to bloggers like me – asking to promote their community group think.

I am contacting you to ask for your assistance in publicizing a community-based workshop for Phase II of Going Places – An Integrated Land Use Vision for the Miami Valley Region (please visit for more information). We are hoping for support and publicity from bloggers like you.

Since I’ve delayed talking about it- there are only 3 left- including one at Kettering Fairmount HS tonight (you can stay after and see Thurgood Marshall kick butt in basketball at 8pm).

a brief overview, the second phase of the Going Places Initiative will explore the future landscape options of the Region. More specifically, Phase II will build future land use scenarios and will evaluate land use scenario impacts. In order to identify and build collective regional land use scenarios, MVRPC will host 17 community-based workshops throughout the region to engage the general public in the future land use themes and scenarios development process. The workshop is designed to last approximately 90 minutes.

  • Thursday, March 18, 2010 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Fairmont High School, commons area 3301 Shroyer Road Kettering OH 45429
  • Wednesday, March 31, 2010 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Center for Regional Cooperation 1100 West 3rd Street Dayton OH 45407
  • Wednesday, April 7, 2010 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Friendship Village, Convocation Room 5790 Denlinger Road Trotwood OH 45426-1898

A few posts ago, we covered Martin Kim of MVRPC analysis of the land use in the region. And it’s funny- we mentioned him in the post on committee forming as well (first link in this post).

After that- I got a follow up note from someone at MVRPC “Um, Thanks, I think. :-)”

I’m going to keep the contents of most of that note private- since if they wanted it public- they could have commented on the post itself. But here is the reason I’m pumping the last three meetings:

We’re hoping to go to each of the 78 jurisdictions at the conclusion and tell them, “X number of people — voters — attended these workshops.  Maybe you should listen to what your constituents say.”  If developers show up, then our results will reflect that.  If environmentalists show up, our results will reflect that.  All we can do as an agency is to beg folks to come and voice their opinion.

Heaven help us if the “developers” show up- we’re already over developed. The key thing to note- why the hell do we have 78 jurisdictions? Can we please move into the modern day- instead of sticking with a structure devised with the Northwest Ordinance of 1784 and the Land Ordinance of 1785.

And, oh, yeah- how about a leader? One whom we can hold accountable?

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13 Responses

  1. Jeff of Louisville March 18, 2010 / 4:09 pm
    Those two ordnances specfied land subdivision process and state formation.  The townships established by the land ordnance were survey townships, a  unit of land subdivision, not civil townships.  The establishment of local government units was up to the states, and you will find civil townships to have varying degrees of authority across ‘The Old Northwest’, or what we know today as the Midwest.  It would probably require legislation or a state constitutional amendment to do a wholesale reorganization of local government.
    As for these MVRPC forums I will try to make the 31 March one, even it is in Dayton.  The day prior I will be attending this confab, which looks like an interesting bit of grass roots organizing by the Louisville independent scene…a local blogger and the local alternative weekly teamed up to host it:
    …reminds me a bit of the old Cityscape/Cityshape forums the Miami Valley Arts Council used to sponsor.
  2. Greg Hunter March 19, 2010 / 11:01 am
    It was an interesting meeting and as always I learned a great deal by listening to the information as well as the participants.  In my days of yore I would have been more vocal about the apparent craziness of the process as in my heart of hearts it means absolutely nothing to participate.  The deals were long since done and the politicians of the jurisdictions have been “hired” by developers along time ago.  Maybe that will change as the sheer stupidity of or planning is becoming as evident as the greed of Wall Street.
    Let’s start with a few tidbits.
    I was involved in a supposed similar process for Centerville and Washington Township about the development in the southern part of the city called Create the Vision .  As I was intimately involved in the land around that area.  Intimately, as I knew all of the land owners around Nutt Road and the push was on to ensure Austin Road was developed.  So the politicians co opted some local well respected individuals to push this pig down the throats of citizens of this area, while covering up negative aspects of the development.  If you, as a reader, clicked on the link for Create the Vision you will find that this Web Site is for sale.  But I have a memory and I armed with the Way Back Machine, so take a look at the data for Create the Vision.   Nice!  I mean the data speaks and the citizens do not.  So I have great trepidation in participating in these “events” as they are just part of the sales process for business as usual.  So shooting the messengers is not the problem as the lurking politicians are the problem as they are waging war with each other to fight over the last chicken leg.  I know we cannot survive by shooting the messengers but maybe the politicians….hmm just kidding.
    I could drone on about connecting the dots between elected officials and the developers, Transportation Improvement Districts and it’s dismantling of the teeth of the MVRPC as well as the take down of Mike Robinette because he had cojones.   But the sheeple do not get it and the messengers are not paid enough to stand up to (inserted moneyed interest here).
  3. Jeff of Louisville March 20, 2010 / 5:37 am
    I vaguely recall that Washington Township process, but I wasn’t that interested in planning stuff back then.
    Mike Robinette is, I think, a planning or development official for Middletown now, so he didn’t go too far.  I’d like to hear about this takedown, though.  What percipitated it and who did the taking down?  In your opinion.
  4. Auston Hensley July 30, 2012 / 11:06 pm
    Hi all–
    I posted this a while back on the City Data forum and thought I’d plug for it elsewhere (including here) to gain some additional thoughts and input for my plan. If it gained enough steam and support I’d try to turn it into a more serious proposal. I was primarily motivated to write it because I’m a downtown resident (been here a year so far) and I’m simply appalled at the lack of… well, people, downtown.
    Let me know what your thoughts are – contact me via email or Facebook. Thanks in advance, and I welcome any suggestions, ideas, or changes. (I also posted this on the DDN’s facebook page – I wonder what kind of coverage I’ll get there.)
  5. David Esrati July 31, 2012 / 12:12 am


    Thanks for posting that link. A few things-

    The idea of students across the river is kind of out of touch with reality. Students want to be in the “ghetto” and near Brown Street- if anything – housing along Stewart- to Main would happen first.

    RTA isn’t going to think about shuttle/circulator routes. They once tried it with the Wright Flyer trolleys and zero ridership. It’s not in their DNA.

    I think a bike share system would do a lot more for us.

    Deeds point – sure- more housing- but, with an abundance of housing already here- and cheap- it’s not very important. We’ve got plenty of housing stock- we need more people. Charlie Simms is attracting folks to his townhouses- although why they are taking off compared to the Litehouses- I’m not sure.

    Supermarket- yes- location- anywhere. Transportation Center Garage would be easiest- or back by the Merc/2nd St market.

    75 and 35- who cares. Building highways is good for construction companies and political donors. It’s not the solution. Policies to encourage walk to work or public transit or bicycling are all smarter.

    Decreasing the city tax- wishful thinking. Having a single tax rate for the whole community- smart. The dual tax thing at Austin landing should have people up in arms.

    There are a ton of posts on this site- and still many on Jefferey’s Daytonology that talk about other solutions- welcome to the ever continuing discussion of how to fix Dayton- been going on in backrooms and leadership by consensus since 1913.

  6. Auston Hensley July 31, 2012 / 12:33 am
    Hi David–
    It may be more convenient/quick to reply to your concerns so I’ll do it here, as much as possible. The idea of redevloping the Carillon area would be something that’s far, far longer term than anything else I’ve described (except for the economic zone bit).
    As a downtown resident, I would love to have a shuttle circulator route between the center of the city, the Oregon District, and UD/Brown Street. In addition to obviating my need to drive the princely sum of two miles from my apartment to UD (I am a second year law student), it would also provide improved access between all three areas.
    Deeds Point is part of an idea to fully revitalize a small area immediately surrounding the CBD – by creating a walkable community with a target population of 10-15,000 residents (currently this area only has 2,000). There’s certainly plenty of housing stock, but it isn’t really within walking distance of the CBD – I know there’s a bunch of vacant and semi-vacant buildings around the Brixx and 5/3 Field but the only houses I can thinking of are beyond Keowee? This would, in addition to the increased property values and income taxes, would be more than enough population to support a supermarket within or near the CBD – within walking distance.
    By creating a walkable community that’s no more than about 1.5 miles in diameter I’m trying to obviate the need for any type of vehicle – bicycle or car. I wonder if a supermarket (especially if it were a smaller business or independent grocer) could afford to locate within the CBD itself? I’m actually harboring some reservations about that, so I’m thinking in the area around Brixx or the Mendelson liquidation outlet.
    I seem to be in the minority among those who consider urban/regional planning as a hobby but I think that roads are absolutely essential to revitalizing the area. Fact of the matter is, it’s easier for a West Chester resident to get to Miamisburg during rush hour than it is for them to get to Cincinnati due to the latter’s traffic snarls – and it’s because 75 has finally been expanded to four lanes through Butler and Warren counties. We can go on endlessly about the pitfalls – increased gasoline consumption, continuous sprawl, etc. – and I’m in agreement that oil, like our other natural resources, should be managed responsibly.
    And with regards to decreasing the city taxes, at least within a confined area… the longer it remains wishful thinking, the longer it will take before the city begins to turn around. A quick look at where all the big retail/office developments out in the suburbs shows you where people will go – look at Pentagon Park, Fairfield Commons, the Greene, Austin Landing, Dayton Mall, and on Wilmington Pike. If you get off 675 and go south on Wilmington Pike, you’ll notice that almost all of the shopping development is on the left side of the road. The answer for that is simple – the left side of the road is in Sugarcreek Township, in Greene County – which as I’m sure everyone knows, can’t levy an income tax per Ohio law. The right side of the road is within Centerville city limits, which levies a 1.75% income tax. Wilmington Pike is right on the county line in this case.
    That isn’t to say there isn’t any development on the Centerville side – but from a purely economic and business standpoint, why would you willingly locate your business on the wrong side of the road? I don’t have an objection to all taxes – after all, to paraphrase Justice Holmes, taxes buy civilization. But levying a 1.75% income tax (or in Dayton’s case, 2.25%) on one side of the road makes that side, by comparison, uncompetitive.
    It’s the reason why (although nobody will admit) that Thompson Hine moved from downtown to Austin Landing. I haven’t fully read up on the story behind that development, but I do know that Miami Township charges no income tax – and all those highly paid attorney’s wouldn’t be too hot on paying Dayton’s income tax.
    I certainly wouldn’t, either – when I graduate, the economy is unlikely to be much better, and the Sallie Mae guys will be hounding me for their student loan payments before long. Time permitting, I’ll have to read up on Daytonology.
  7. David Esrati July 31, 2012 / 1:15 am


    I put a proposal out for giving tax abatement to people who live/work in the Central Business District a few weeks back:
    Bike share solves many of your problems- other than the fact that you are paying top dollar for a legal education that isn’t likely to payback as well as it did 10 years ago.

    Yes- the income tax disparities are driving development and the rearranging of deck chairs. I’ve addressed it many times here. I’m not going to dig for the links now- it’s late- but, this is a royal pain for many small businesses- like contractors- who work in many different jurisdictions.

    We don’t need more lanes- you build them- you get more traffic. We need less drivers. If MVH and KHN and UD made concerted efforts to get their employees to live within walking/biking distance- it could have a huge impact. Of course, to do that- Dayton Public Schools would also need to bring their A game.

    You’re on the right track- but, your main obstacle is the Northwest Ordinance if 1785 that drew the rules for all these fiefdoms.

    You’re a budding lawyer- change the laws.

  8. Auston Hensley July 31, 2012 / 1:24 am
    Hi David–
    Likewise on it getting late on my end. I’ll have to earmark this page for a proper response tomorrow. But I do have a few thoughts in mind, especially with regards to the tax abatement (which would be remarkably similar to, if not comparable to my tax break idea. Especially since my requirement was for someone to both work and live within the CBD to quality for that break.)
  9. Auston Hensley July 31, 2012 / 1:37 pm
    Hi David–
    OK, I’ve had more of a chance to read up on your post in addition to the old laws. I’ve always wondered why, after moving to Ohio, they had so many local levels of government. Each county has its commissioners, a sheriff’s department, and auditor. Then the townships have trustees and other elected positions. And then each city levies its own income tax, with an independent tax department.
    I’m torn on townships – because a township (or Beavercreek/Bellbrook) is my number one preference to live and work after graduating. Because as you say rightly, a city can only charge a premium income tax for so long without offering premium amenities before all the people pack their moneybags and leave. Especially in a smaller city like Dayton, where it’s only a 10 minute drive in any direction on the highway to get to the suburbs (and lower taxes) – the cost of commuting to/from the suburbs, even in the face of $4/gallon gasoline, is miniscule compared to city taxes (both income and property taxes).
    On the other hand, imagine how much money could be saved if the township’s administration was taken over by a unified county government. The county could handle all affairs in the unincorporated parts – and they should, from an economic standpoint. But that would require a reworking of Ohio’s law on a state level – and you know every township commissioner from Conneaut to Cincinnati would oppose that vehemently. Plus, most residents of each of those townships – who currently enjoy paying no city taxes – would be up in arms, too. Meaning that we -should- do it, but there simply isn’t the political will/muscle to get it done.
    I really tried to take that into account with my own ‘master plan’ to fix Dayton, using entirely local funds. I proposed taking the revenue from all those new speed cameras sprinkled all around the city and placing that money into the master plan fund (especially since a shuttle from downtown to UD wouldn’t cost that much, and combining city funds with matching Federal/State dollars would leverage the funds greatly to increase returns). Of course, City Hall won’t do that – they’ve got their hands too deep in the kitty for that.
    If I recall correctly MVH had a plan a while back to credit employees who lived in the South Park area? I could certainly foresee South Park becoming a gentrified neighborhood with a mix of older and newer housing, filled with employees of MVH, UD, or downtown. Your ‘tax abatement’ plan is remarkably similar to mine (although you didn’t attempt to specify any boundaries), and arguably would be more equitable given that it offers a total break below a certain income point. But we both agreed that regardless of exactly what kind of tax break was handed out, the people would have to both live and work within the CBD or the immediate area surrounding it in order to receive the abatement.
    I wonder exactly how effective a bike share program would be? Certainly it would cost far less than some of the other gig’s the downtown development guys have cooked up in recent years. But I’m seriously concerned about safety, not only for cyclists, but also pedestrians and other vehicles. In my life, I’ve only had two run-in’s with other vehicles, and they were both cyclists. One broadsided my car while I was stopped at a stop sign, and the other blew a red light and caught my fender good while on Stewart St. last year. I’ve never had problems with cars (fingers crossed). Any plan to get more cyclists on the road would have to be accompanied by a concerted effort to improve bike safety and knowledge about the rules of the road. I own a bicycle myself, and I take it up and down the river trails all the time – but I keep my time on the roads to a minimum because of how the cars behave (it works both ways, I admit.)
    I shamelessly admit that I’m much more road-centric than most other urban planners. Because I’m focused on the metro region as a whole, not merely that within the city limits. And if you make it more difficult to get to/from downtown by not caring about the 75/35 construction, then you’re just hurting the whole region in the name of social engineering. Even if you fully gentrified the neighborhood, I don’t foresee any more than 30-40,000 people living within a one mile radius of the city center. But the city center currently employs some 40,000 already – a number which could easily rise to 100,000 or more if the high-rises were actually fully occupied. Meaning that at least 60k+ commuters would still come from the suburbs daily. No point in making life any more difficult for them than it already is. We can go on about how commute times in Dayton are already relatively short compared to other cities (especially large ones) but it’s not a golden ticket to ignore highway development.
    Rather than letting a highway be a gateway for money to leave the city, it should be a gateway for money – and jobs – to come back. And upgrading the roads is absolutely essential to that. You’ll need a minimum of three thru lanes to accommodate all the workers. And will more cars certainly come? Sure. It’s a sign of an improving economy.
  10. Auston Hensley September 18, 2012 / 1:04 am
    Hi David–
    After thinking and doing some research I’ve decided to simplify the plan. I’ve scuppered pretty much all “city government initatives” such as the shuttle because that uses city dollars that quite frankly, the city government doesn’t have. All of that is insanity. If the government fosters private development first, then the private sector will provide generously in the form of payroll and property taxes. Consequently, I’ve included your abatement idea as part of a greater master plan.

    1) I would still go full-speed ahead with construction on I-75, with the glaring exception of the reconfiguring of the downtown ramps. Make it three thru lanes, yes, but you need a LOT more than one big exit downtown on 75. The traffic snarls would be intolerable.

    2) Likewise with my idea of expanding US 35 to three lanes in each direction between Smithville Rd. and I-675 by paving over the median. An added bonus is that Riverside PD loses its #1 revenue generator.

    3) And my tax plan. I’d like to change it a bit, and expand its scope.

    Originally, I proposed that anybody who lived AND worked within the “special economic zone” bordered roughly by I-75 on the west and north, US 35 on the south and Keowee St. on the east would have their city taxes cut by half. And that this, hopefully, would encourage more people to live and work downtown.

    But, I’m changing that a bit. I propose a total tax abatement up to the first $44,000 per year made – which is what the Mayor currently makes at his part time job – for somebody who lives and works within downtown. This would include the CBD, the convention center, Oregon, and Tech Town.

    I would then expand this to include neighborhoods immediately surrounding Downtown – South Park, Midtown, etc. If you live and work in that neighborhood, you also get a tax break on the first $44,000 a year made. This increases the incentive to conduct more business in your own neighborhood – which would go a long way towards improving them.

    To compensate for the slight drop in revenues (only some 2,000-odd residents live in Downtown, fewer still of those work there as well), temporarily raise the city’s income tax to 2.5% from 2.25% for five years.

    Of course, if you live and work in the same neighborhood, then you pay far, far less.

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