April 1, 2013

Another View: Why bother zoning? Bayside vote shows all rules negotiable

Developers propose whatever they want and say it conforms with 'A New Vision for Bayside.'

By Steve Hirshon

Your editorial "Bayside zoning change right call for neighborhood" (March 25) is right to state that our neighborhood's most pressing need is more eyes on the street and more people in homes.

But larger zoning, planning and development issues are ignored once again in a rush to get another deal done. Meanwhile, the broader questions of whether zoning and planning even matter may be more worthy of consideration.

Certainly, it is the Planning Board's right to decide the matters that come before it. Giving broader meaning to a narrow question only buys time until someone wants something else.

If, like tossing coins, every instance is separate, why bother having zoning or guiding principles or any sort of land use planning whatsoever ?

The so-called "New Vision for Bayside" has turned out to be a blank slate. Developers propose what they want to propose and say it fits the vision.

Planning staff, the Planning Board and the City Council, fearful of being labeled "anti-business" (don't worry, you will be anyway), concur.

Despite attempts at reform, zoning is still decided on a case-by-case basis. It only solves today's problem until tomorrow's comes along.

Steve Hirshon of Portland is the president of the Bayside Neighborhood Association.


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