Planning & Development

The Convoluted Spiral That Is Cranston Planning

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by Zoning Monkey Thursday April 14, 2011

Still from House on Haunting Hill

There was an Ordinance Committee meeting preceded by an Finance Committee meeting at Cranston City Hall last night. I know, why the hell would anyone go to that double-header? The masochists turned out in droves.

As a spectator it was amazing to see how an ordinance to oversee something as simple as public notification of project plans can generate such fear – fear from the local Plannerati and fear from the public. Sure the ordinance came out of the oven a little too soon, and one or two of the ingredients might need substitutions, but the gist of it was just to make sure the city was upholding its own laws. Pretty basic stuff.

A woman in the chamber suggested the ordinance was anti-business, and she proudly announced that she was offering her neighborhood up for a Super Walmart. If only the sad new neighbors of an actual Super Walmart somewhere had known about this, it could have saved them a lot of headaches. She’s like the Jesus of Bad Zoning.

The best reaction probably came from a Councilman who suggested that this “NIMBY” ordinance would hurt Cranston’s business image and that we should look to Johnston’s bustling Route 5 as a model. Maybe if we’re lucky he’ll move into an Applebees up there. I kid, of course.

But lost in all the hyperbole was this kernel of truth: if a project is designed by the rules, there’s no need for a zoning reform ordinance in the first place. It’s that simple. Design according to the city’s specs, and Cranston will get you open for business before the next illegal stop sign is discovered – zoning reform or no zoning reform. People seem to forget that part.

The process only gets convoluted when a developer tries to shoehorn a cookie cutter design into a place it doesn’t fit. This leads to the inevitable Sparring for Variances – a sport that Cranston always loses. Corporations adapt their designs for other cities and towns all the time. Why not Cranston?

To that I say – buck up, Cranston! You’re not all that ugly. People still want to dance with you, so hold out for what you want. Developers need you more than you need them. Oh sure, they’ll bitch and whine and threaten to build their piece of shit in Johnston, but if you have a little confidence and hold your ground, they’ll dress nicely, play by your rules, and ask you to dance.

This article by Zoning Monkey does not reflect the views of this blog’s owner, his employer or the dineEquity Brand™ of family dining establishments including Applebees and IHOP

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  1. So this is my first visit to this Blog and I can already see that the flavor of it is decidedly left wing, liberal, anti-development, and radical environmental advocacy.

    — Rhody · May 5, 07:21 AM · #


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The Convoluted Spiral That Is Cranston Planning

There was an Ordinance Committee meeting preceded by an Finance Committee meeting at Cranston City Hall last night. I know, why the hell would anyone go to that double-header? The masochists turned out in droves.


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