Planning and Development

Zoning has been big news in Berlin recently, with the council working to amend the zoning ordinance to deal with non-conforming lots. The council screwed up by rushing the effort. They had to redo it the other night, which pushes the time-line of at least one project back another couple weeks, but they are moving forward still, with the goal to make it easier to start and run a business in Berlin.

There are members of the planning board, however, who don’t favor relaxing the standards. The city should get rid of non-conforming lots over time, they argue, and the way to do that is by restricting their use.

I’m no urban planner, but both sides of the debate have merits. Berlin needs development. The city is in no position to turn away people looking to invest. But the city needs investors willing to do things right, on the other hand. All the slumlords in the world don’t help revive the housing market, for example.

I watched this talk recently about redevelopment of suburban areas that had been abandoned, and parts of it echoed the challenges in Berlin.

Planning and zoning are such interesting tools for development, and at the same time complex. The city needs to consider carefully how to implement them. What does it mean to make this change? Hopefully it creates real opportunity in the city, like jobs, taxes and growth in the near future. In the end, two weeks doesn’t matter.

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