Tuesday, April 12, 2016

FLASKBACK: What I wrote on the occasion of Summit Springs ... nine years ago.

From council coverage on February 5, 2007 ... a little over 9 years ago, when the first iteration of the Summit Springs property development bubbled to the surface. Are we making "progress' yet?


The more rope he is provided, the bigger Larry’s slippery noose grows.

Ordinance Amending the Code of Ordinances New Albany, Indiana, Title XV, Chapter 156 (Docket P-12-06: Pat & Pam Kelly – Summit Springs Development)
Crump 1

Discussion of this, the latest in a series of divisive green field development projects, is my not-so-dark-horse choice to prompt a shouting match, either between citizens, council members, or both.

In essence, local zoning authorities use existing sets of criteria to rate such projects, which pass to the council for final approval, and are considered by the council using entirely different sets of criteria (read: political and electoral). The predictable result is a wide divergence of philosophical intent, and a striking absence of contextual continuity from one debate to the next.

With open space at an ever-increasing premium within the city limits of New Albany, but numerous adjacent tracts available for redevelopment and the type of adaptive reuse that we advocate here on a weekly basis, it continues to be frustrating that the square-pegged development logic of the “limitless” exurb so often is forcibly jammed into what are urban holes of decidedly different shape and ideal usage.

Unfortunately, a big part of the problem is the community’s inability – perhaps its unwillingness – to unify for the pursuit and maintenance of common development goals. To reframe our zoning standards according to a futuristic perspective, and to step up enforcement of standards already determined, is to set goals that are consistent with a principled recognition of changing circumstances, and to plan how these bars can be cleared for overall betterment.

As with so many other issues, I’m entirely unsure how we get past the enmity of generations and eliminate the personal animus that tends to improperly provide the backdrop to most of the council’s zoning decisions. It is clear that a working compromise between certain development mentalities structured to transform corn fields into asphalt, and those addressing the city’s pressing need to meet the demands of a far different – not better, not worse, just different – target market for an urban experience downtown, must be achieved … and soon.

Like so many previous proposals that have come before the council for consideration, it is likely that the Summit Springs project will be subject to the spasmodic paradigms of the body’s ward-heeling faction, and that it will be approved or rejected in the lamentable absence of a genuine community debate over developmental standards. Where the coin will drop is anyone’s guess, as it always is with this group.

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