Why planning is so important and doing it correctly is even more important
The second concept is one we don’t hear nearly enough about anymore. It’s the fact that land use laws are exercises of the police power. This means coercion. No one likes coercion. No one wants a police state. Yet, some policing is essential to a civil society.
Anyone focusing on these concepts begins to appreciate why the law is such a serious matter and why planning, as opposed to reactionary policy constructed on-the-fly, is so critical. We must get back to it and use our planning tools to study and understand our communities. We must also get serious with our goals. They need to be focused on the future, not the present. We need to plan for the needs of future residents, not the wants of present ones. It’s difficult, but that’s why we do data gathering – so we know where we are headed and what’s coming. Finally, we must craft policies – based on that data and those goals – that at least attempt to resolve the big issues in advance of our disputes. That’s what planning is. The alternative is unending controversy and chaos or, worse, a police state.
[Thomas J. Shepstone is the sole principal of Shepstone Management Company, Inc., a planning and research consulting firm headquartered in Honesdale, PA with expertise in land use planning and zoning, environmental assessments, market research and analysis, economic development planning, traffic studies and more. He is also a consultant, and the campaign director for Energy in Depth Marcellus, www.eidmarcellus.org.]