Balancing growth with green spaces

Thursday, January 25, 2007

At 4 p.m., representatives from planning firm Arcturis met with the Cape Girardeau Planning and Zoning Commission and the city council.

The discussion ranged widely, but a consistent theme was a citywide need for green space implemented in a way that does not scare off developers.

Bill Burke of Arcturis told city leaders he hasn't met anybody in Cape Girardeau who is not "pro-growth." But Burke said many he's talked to in town would like to see more trees. A good way to kick-start that might be to "enforce very aggressive preannexation agreements" requiring trees in subdivisions outside the city wanting in.

Burke also mentioned communities in suburban St. Louis that have made green space a priority and been rewarded for it.

"When you set the bar higher, developers generally respond," he said.

Mayor Jay Knudtson said he is prepared to "carry the torch" on a green-space ordinance for residential areas but wants to be certain it doesn't halt growth.

"While we want to raise the bar, we don't want to choke" developers, he said. "We don't want to necessarily deter development; we just want a blend."

Planning and Zoning Commission chairman Charlie Haubold said he recently spent time in West Lafayette, Ind., which has strict green requirements and came away impressed.

Haubold thinks a green requirement might raise prices but won't necessarily scare developers.

"Most of this stuff, they're putting it into the price of the lot anyway," he said.

--TJ Greaney

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