Planning commissions should work together

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

To the Editor:

The Planning Commissioners have an extremely important job. They are tasked with the responsibility of looking forward many years and creating a vision for the future. Their position is appointed and not an elected position for a reason; they must plan many years beyond a four-year election cycle. Their responsibility is not only land use, but also comprehensive, covering all aspects of future growth. They must not be influenced by short-term thinking if a community is to prosper.

Fortunately, in creating a plan for the future they have the past to guide them. They can look at what worked and what did not. What has been successful and what didn’t turn out so well?

Planning Commissioners are now being asked to rezone a parcel of land by a handful of their constituents and Economic Development. Unfortunately, many of the folks that they plan for were not at the public hearing. The meeting started at 7 p.m. As such, some were preparing for school the next morning … some are still in high chairs and some are not yet born, but the Planning Commission members realize this.

Franklin and Southampton planning commissions do not meet and work together to create one common vision for our community. I believe they should. Economic Development does. Planning & Zoning does.

Unfortunately, this is not just a Southampton County issue. Camp Parkway/Clay Street is a major Gateway Corridor into the City of Franklin. There is a Gateway Corridor on Pretlow, one on South Street and one at the Blackwater River Bridge entering the historic downtown.

Camp Parkway/Clay Street is by far the finest Gateway Corridor that any community could have. The Planning Commission, along with stakeholders envisioned and created it. We should be proud of it. It offers first-time visitors, guests and everyone that drives this road the amazing scenery of gently rolling land, horses in pastures, a beautiful new school. a church that is absolutely breathtaking and stately historic homes. No matter what time of the year you travel Camp Parkway, this is truly a living portrait for all to enjoy.

If Economic Development’s proposed industrial project moves forward, what will it look like in the future? What will it look like for our children and grandchildren? What will it look like if it fails? What will it look like then?

I believe I know what it will look like in the future. Should you desire to see into the future, drive down one of the other Gateway Corridors. Drive down Pretlow or, for a quicker look into the future, drive on 58. Sometimes things don’t turn out like we expected.

There is no amount of spin that can be put on this. No amount of window dressing. One might argue that this has buffers, landscaping and even a walking path. What we really have is an industrial warehouse project that has been cleverly disguised as a business park.

Because even if this project were in full operation and fully built-out today, we all know what industrial development projects look like in 30 years. You and I and, more importantly, our children, end up with faded or rusted warehouses and an outdated industrial development site.

This may be an appropriate, desirable and viable project in another location. It will never be appropriate here.

I believe I know what it will look like in the future. We all know what it looks like now.

Bobby Tyler