03/11/09 — In the know ... Keeping an eye out pays off in the long run

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In the know ... Keeping an eye out pays off in the long run

No one can possibly know everything that is going on in his or her county. Keeping everything on the straight and narrow -- that's what we pay city and county managers and their staffs for and why we elect city council members and commissioners.

But for the past couple of weeks, many residents have learned the hard way how important it is to keep track of what is going on in the areas around their communities -- and to act pre-emptively to protect their interests.

This week, the Wayne County Planning Commission started talking more aggressively about zoning for some areas of the county. The idea is to move systematically throughout some areas to set rules and regulations for what can be built where.

The board said it has been talking about zoning for a while and that this latest discussion has nothing to do with a planned development of low-income housing in Rosewood -- and that is very likely the case.

But it is fortuitous for those whose property and home values might be influenced if such a development were built -- and not regulated properly.

There are reasons to set standards for low-income housing just as there are for other developments in a community. A piece of property, left unchecked and unregulated, could well end up with an irresponsible landlord or owner and no means to correct the problem.

So setting standards for what the county expects from developers, owners and others is a great idea -- no matter whether the rules are designed to address low-income housing, a shopping mall or a mobile home park.

Hopefully, the planning commission will be able to get some standards in place that will benefit all county residents -- and will help keep tight control over local development.

That would be a win-win for everyone.

But there is a lesson to be learned here for anyone who lives in a neighborhood or a community. Keep an eye on what is going on around you.

The people in the Rosewood areas that would be affected by the proposed development moved quickly to have their say. And while some of their presentations might have been a little too unruly, they spoke to their leaders about how they felt about the plans and what they hoped to see done for their community.

Whether they got to the right people in time remains to be seen, but at least they made sure someone knew they were watching and concerned.

This is not a time to stick your head in the sand. Stay abreast of your community news. Know what decisions your leaders -- all your leaders -- are making. Your wallet just might depend on it.

Published in Editorials on March 11, 2009 10:39 AM