Editorial: Planning & perspective

Homeowners are battling what they see as encroachments into residential neighborhoods, and participation makes the process work as it should. But perspective is also helpful.
The Planning and Zoning Commission just turned down a request to remove private clubs as a permitted use, a change sought by the Peaceable Street neighbors worried about an ice skating club. Previously, a rehab facility on Old West Mountain Road was withdrawn after vehement neighborhood opposition. Now a small bed and breakfast on Circle Drive has sparked neighborhood concern.
People are within their rights — and, often, doing a public service — when they get involved, study-up on development plans, attend meetings, speak their minds. But perspective means understanding the process. It’s a balancing of rights: the right to sell land, develop, do business, make a profit; and the right to enjoy a home, a neighborhood, in peace and tranquility.
Mortgage-burdened homeowners can react strongly to what they view as threats to property values. Often people rise up to “protect” against changes that wouldn’t really harm their neighborhoods, wouldn’t send values plummeting.
Planning and Zoning law gives the town authority to introduce order, and set limits: to say no to building an auto racing track next to the senior citizens’ housing. But it doesn’t empower people to halt all change and growth.
Let’s care, participate, speak out. But let’s not lose perspective.

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