Mixed use meets needs of city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2005

It was good to see the Suffolk Planning Commission this week give its recommendation to adding a mixed use development ordinance to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance.

If approved by City Council at its Sept. 19 meeting, this ordinance will allow for the development of pedestrian-friendly communities that marry residential, office and retail aspects. This is important for a couple reasons.

First, such developments epitomize smart growth – higher density (i.e. less sprawl); allowing people to walk from their homes to convenient shopping or even jobs, reducing traffic.

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Also, one might have noticed that the price of gasoline has been rising. This development is likely to have a major impact on our lifestyle. Pundits are predicting that unlike in the 1970s when short supplies of gasoline and rising prices led to the production of smaller cars and greater fuel economy, that’s not likely to happen this time around. Not only because Washington politicians are too close to auto and oil interests, but because Americans simply love their SUVS too much to let a little thing like $50 or $75 fill-ups come between them.

Instead, we will more likely abandon suburbia and move closer to our jobs, once again reducing traffic and saving fuel.

The immediate focus of this ordinance is developer Robert Williams’ planned massive Harbour View Town Center, but this type of mixed use development will have an impact throughout Suffolk, including the downtown area.

Yet another good thing about this ordinance is the respect with which officials appear to have listened to the concerns of developers and crafted an ordinance that all can live with. That is how local government should operate and all involved can take pride in developing an ordinance that will benefit all of Suffolk.