My eyes have been opened: A poem about zoning laws and regulations

Editor’s note: Lise Read has been the recording secretary for the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Inland Wetlands Board in the town of Ridgefield for the last eight years. She lives in New Fairfield. She submitted the following poem to The Press earlier this month.

’Twas the night of the hurricane, news ran through the house, the caution was flooding, you better get out

Texas was in trouble, the eye nearing shore, Harvey will hit, of where they’re not sure

I slept like a baby and was up with the dawn, not paying attention to what’s going on

I got morning coffee, turned on the TV, and what to my wondering eyes did I see

I was shocked by the pictures; this is not the norm, floating cars in the street all due to the storm

Hurricane Harvey had hit Houston hard; the city under water, for years will be scarred

Stunned by statistics, 10,000 people displaced, I saw the devastation and despair on their face

Then the news described Houston before the storm hit, I was totally shocked and to share we should sit

Houston had become an economic success, an affordable place to live, but a chaotic ugly mess

Deregulation was the name of the game, no planning or zoning were the factors to blame

A high-rise and farm are on the same block, developers were building around the clock

And because there’s no need to follow a rule, the in-between lot they have built a school

Years of no zoning is not right, it is wrong, 45,000 acres of wetlands are gone

And if you’re in need of a parking spot, 30 spaces per person in Houston’s lot

Where did they think the water would go, impervious surface is now Houston’s woe

On a scale of destruction I give it a ten, and with the weather we’re having, it’ll happen again

How do you fix what has already been built, without heartache and sadness and plenty of guilt

Then nine weeks later the World Series came about, and Texans were still taking their Sheetrock out

Now a few times a month on Tuesday nights, I sit in a meeting about drainage and lights

With nine volunteers who leave their families behind, with laws and regulations clear on their minds

I’ve seen wringing hands when they have to deny, or accept due to regs, where their focus must lie

Nine volunteers who work to plan and to zone, always protecting you, your family, your home

Regulation here is the name of the game; at times I have seen residents who think it’s a pain

I think if you ask Houstonians their thoughts of today, the City must zone, it’s the only way.

My eyes now have seen what deregulation can do, I know the importance and I hope you do too.