June 29, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

Money vs. Zoning

No matter how gorgeous the drawings and maps of a land-use plan or how brilliantly crafted the rules to actualize its vision, only investment can manifest zoning.

More simply put, just wanting a nicer movie theater in your hometown is not enough to convince an investor to put one there.

This always seems to cause confusion.

After months of drawing tired neighbors from their homes for night meetings, provoking frustrating conversations even arguments among them and all the while encouraging great hopes and dreams,  land-use plans are destined to quickly retire into shelved three-ring binders.

It’s difficult to not become discouraged and to remember it is actually the process of writing the plan that is the important part of the task.  Without the energy and excitement of planning together – the shared imagining of duck ponds and fountains, a brand spanking new movie theater – the commitment to long-term change cannot occur.

It is not the plan itself, it is not rezoning that will revitalize Lexington Park, Maryland. It is recapitalization. And that gets personal.

This is not to disparage land-use plans or the complicated task of crafting zoning rules to carry those plans forth in a real world. But no matter how great the rendering, how many appropriately zoned lots, a movie theater won’t arrive without an investor and an active commercial center.

Reviving a community’s economy demands more than zoning alone provides. Shopping local and patronizing Lexington Park restaurants and services can attract investment as surely as zoning carrots and other government encouragements.  Widespread citizen support of proposed public and private investments can help it materialize. And investment attracts more investment.

So even if the plan ends up filled with unlikely duck pond dreams or fails to include movie theaters by name, attendance at all those frustrating meetings counts in moving Lexington Park forward. Who knows, it could move so far by the tine the next plan is dreamed that an investor might be unable to resist a duck pond and a theater just where you wanted it to go in the first place.

Be there. Stake claim.

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