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Planning by popularity. MVRPC holds “community meetings.”

When there is a lack of leadership- we look to building consensus. [1] 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 www.mvrpc.org/rlu [2] 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.

A few posts ago, we covered Martin Kim of MVRPC analysis of the land use in the region. [3] 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 [4].

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

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Jeff of Louisville

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.

Greg Hunter

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… Read more »

Jeff of Louisville

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.

Auston Hensley

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.)

Auston Hensley

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… Read more »

Auston Hensley

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.)

Auston Hensley

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… Read more »

Auston Hensley

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… Read more »