Streamline Planning

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The adage says that a two-hump camel is just a Shetland Pony, designed by a committee.

Sounds about right.

And if that’s true, then a platypus is a duck designed by the typical town planning process.

So we’re hoping that the current council will work to rationalize the planning process, given its devotion to convincing builders that Payson’s planning process doesn’t reveal anger issues — or early onset Alzheimer’s.

For instance, we couldn’t help but notice the development of a certain amount of muddle in the interactions among the various town committees illustrated by several stories in today’s paper.

On the one hand, you’ve got the traffic committee suddenly deciding that the consultant-recommended plan for Main Street might cause a lot of fender-benders by shifting to angled parking. Then on another page, you’ve got the redevelopment district board urging the council to make sure all Main Street projects go through the new design review board.

The latest back and forth underscores an earlier council discussion about the proper role of the design review board, which recently came up with standards intended to give the town a consistent “western mountain town” look. At that council discussion, the planning staff noted the town has several special districts that have their own rules and standards — most notably the airport and Main Street.

So we think it’s time to take a careful look at the jury-rigged system, to make sure we don’t stitch extra webbed feet onto puzzled ponies.

Here’s one idea: Make the planning commission the clearing house. All projects should start there — with subsequent input from committees dealing with design, traffic and the special districts.

Don’t make landowners pinball from committee to committee, lighting up bumpers as they bounce about. The planning commission would delegate specialized issues, but also keep everything coordinated and on schedule.

Moreover, the town must think through the process for developments in the various planning overlay districts — like the redevelopment district and the airport. Don’t let each of those districts develop its own little system, even if they have special standards.

The lull in applications and the presence of an ostensibly business-friendly council presents the perfect moment to take up this question. Let’s make sure that when business picks up again we have a system other town’s will envy — rather than one bemused builders bemoan.

If it’s planned like a duck — it will walk like a duck.

That said — we do love the platypus. Did you know they have fur, lay eggs and sense the electromagnetic field of their prey with sensors in their bills?

Besides, they offer solid evidence that the Creator has a sense of humor.

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