Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wake-up call for Elizabeth

Hope you're watching what's happening to our friends in Dilworth. They face the same pressures we do as a popular inner-city neighborhood dealing with growth. But they have a wild card we don't: Light rail. Mass transit for our corridor has been put off so far in the future it likely will never happen. Unfortunately that does not relieve us of the burden of preparing for what it might bring. Look what happened Monday.

Charlotte City Council approved a rezoning that will allow a massive project on the edge of Dilworth -- despite opposition from the Dilworth Community Development Association, despite reservations (pdf) from city planners. "The vote is a test case for the kind of development the city will allow along the rail line," the Observer reported.

Anyone who follows local politics knows developers hold tremendous sway over all our elected bodies. I'm not suggesting anything untoward. The Dilworth project will increase revenues for the city, put people to work, provide housing and likely spur further development. A few neighbors and planners can't compete against that -- even in a society where the "will of the people" is supposedly sacrosanct.

This should serve as a wake-up call for Elizabeth. How do we make sure we don't get steamrolled by the city and developers in the future? We get together now, all of us, and decide what's right for our neighborhood. Let's start with a small area plan (not that it helped Dilworth in this case) and go from there. Maybe we work with our friends in surrounding neighborhoods. Democracy it won't easy. Demoracy isn't. But if we don't start acting now, it will only get harder.

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