Over the years, I have heard people voice concerns over projects which they believed deviated from previously articulated and accepted community development plans, or which seemed contrary to continuation of a vibrant, sustainable community. I have at times had such concerns myself.
One of the areas people seem particularly sensitive about is development of the waterfront. A few years ago, people participated in surveys and workshops designed to develop a workable and responsive long range waterfront plan, and in 2004, the city adopted by ordinance the Long Range Waterfront Plan, which was then included in the updated 1995 Comprehensive Plan.
In the interest of ensuring adherence to this plan, several Juneau citizens are circulating a petition that would place on the October ballot a proposal amending the city code to require public notice and hearings regarding any deviation from the Long Range Waterfront Plan, and mandating hearings regarding plan compliance for any public improvement projects in the plan area before letting contracts.
As I understand it, the chief result of this proposed ordinance would be to prevent surprises - the "I had no idea they were going to do this" or "I thought we had already decided against this" kinds of reactions when new construction begins.
I find this a welcome step toward transparent government, another opportunity to be sure the community is behind public works projects, and a way to assure people that, in fact, our city government does want us to know what they're planning and wants us to be able to weigh in on the decisions.
If there's a downside, I don't really know what it is. In fact, I'd encourage the Assembly to adopt the ordinance so it wouldn't even need to go on the ballot.
I hope that Juneau voters will sign the initiative petition to make sure we all have a say so in the development of our waterfront.
Susi Gregg Fowler
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