Thursday, September 15, 2005

They (finally) got the scoop...

After telling you the news on Saturday, the local papers have finally gotten around to it:

A Howard County Circuit Court judge's ruling affirming the Zoning Board's denial of the Rouse Co.'s petition to increase Columbia's density is essentially moot 20 months after the two bodies were at odds over developing the planned community's downtown.

The story is definitely right. Just a few months ago, when it became clear that the only way new development would occur in downtown Columbia was through the charrette, General Growth gave up on this case as well as the more commercial request it submitted to the county planning board last September.

I guess there is some comfort to be taken in the fact that General Growth has to pay the court fees.

Meanwhile, in the same story, Ken Ulman thinks we have “moved past the adversarial days into a time of cooperation.”

"I'm hopeful that property owners and the community will work together in a renewed sense of cooperation toward this upcoming charrette," he added, "and we will hopefully agree on a mutually beneficial vision for Columbia's Town Center.”

I, too, am hopeful. Unfortunately, I don’t think there has ever been an occasion where citizens, developers, and politicians all agreed on something. Then again, we’ve never viewed planning as inclusive, democratic, or holistic before now. I guess, and hope, there’s a first time for everything.

For the last word, for now, here’s community activist Mary Pivar’s perspective on the charrette:

"It gives residents the validity to express far more inclusive, vibrant visions for the crescent [property] to produce a truly singular city," she said, "instead of another ordinary, prosaic residential-focused development."

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