Enhance citizen input in Beaufort planning

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Enhance citizen input in Beaufort planning

IslandPacket
info@islandpacket.com
Published Tuesday, June 12, 2012   |  271 Words  |  

I agree with the thrust of your June 6 editorial inviting Beaufort residents to engage in the Office of Civic Investment's process to review more than 400 pages of dense form-based code guidelines and volunteer to participate in an advisory committee. Citizen input is a vital element -- arguably the legitimizing component -- of such an ambitious civic plan.

We, after all, will have to live with its consequences long after the Office of Civic Investment has departed.

In that vein, I'd suggest minor adjustments to the process to make it more inclusive and user-friendly:

  • Populate the task force with more representatives from neighborhoods, rather than weighting it toward developers and planning professionals.
  • In view of its unique character, make special provisions to protect the four neighborhoods making up Beaufort's National Landmark Historic District.
  • Delay the selection deadline for two weeks to enable neighborhoods to identify suitable volunteers.
  • If possible, distill the highly technical code into a primer easier for laymen on the committee to understand and analyze.
  • As the editorial points out, residents now have an excellent opportunity to help shape the future of their town. This should constitute a real opportunity for them to directly impact the process rather than simply a planner's nod toward citizen involvement. As the planning process is designed to serve the interests of Beaufort and its people, the Office of Civic Investment and City Council should seek to ensure at every juncture that citizen input is fully understood and respected.

    Peter J. Hussey

    Beaufort