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Jul. 7, 2020 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
ArchiText: Managing our legacy
Without guidelines, what we get is out of our hands. (Brian Marshall/Special)

Contrary to any impression I may have given in the past, I wish to state categorically that I do not consider developers “the enemy.” Nor am I a Luddite who believes that anything old is good while all that is new must be viewed with suspicion and contempt.

I do believe, to quote from page 86 of our town’s draft official plan, that “Cultural heritage resources are not renewable resources. Once lost, they are gone forever.”

It falls to the community, our elected officials and a town’s public servants to work in concert for protection of that heritage. That united effort requires a clearly articulated and thoroughly documented set of published guidelines which detail all the criteria for treatment of heritage resources and also provide the tools for its enforcement. This is proven best practice.

Further, I believe that heritage guidelines are far more effective when working in concert with overarching protocols for the entire town; the former protecting the past while the latter safeguards the future.

Identified as “Community Design Guidelines” in the draft official plan, it is regulation with the express intent of ensuring all new development conforms to the formally adopted criteria/vision of the community. These non-negotiable requirements might variously include such items as “walkability” (pathways or sidewalks), a public greenspace formula (one square foot of green-space per “Y” square feet of developed land), specifying acceptable architectural streetscape theme(s), and so on. Again, an approach internationally understood as best practice.

The benefits of such guidelines are far too many to detail here, however, consider these general statements:

1. Clear and defined protocols make the town planners’ decision-making process significantly more efficient while reducing the associated risk.

2. Detailed Guidelines provide developers a stable, predictable framework from which a reliable, low-risk project cost-benefit analysis can be conducted.

3. The town resulting from the uniform application of such guidelines is visually and functionally cohesive, quite simply a better place to live.

And isn’t that what we all want?