Smart urban planning looks decades ahead

2018-12-13 | Nevada Journal

To the editor:

What will Nevada look like 10 years? 20 years? 30 years down the road? Just imagine Nevada, Iowa, in 2050!

Urban planning anticipates. Smart urban planning does not limit its options. It looks for highest and best use of the finite resources (the land) at its avail for the purpose of current and future development.

Many farm operations, family and otherwise, have excellent reputations for managing their buildings and systems. Whether excellent at operations or not, every one of them certainly has a vested interest in managing their operations to the best of their capability. Everything I have heard about the Henry family within our community suggests they are, and would continue to be, one of the responsible entities in the management of their farming operations.

However, given the site selection for their proposed buildings, the Henry family and their consultants have lost the "responsible management" argument before it even begins.

In the past five years, Nevada has added several residential neighborhoods. It is currently incurring significant growth in its business and industrial sectors. There is no reason to believe that Nevada is going to slow down any time soon when you also consider its proximity to Ames, and the attractive cost of living compared to the Ames-Des Moines corridor.

Nevada currently celebrates open land in all four cardinal directions, creating a useful mix of opportunities for future smart residential and economic development. Nevada is also a natural eastward extension of the Cultivation Corridor, expanding between Ames and Des Moines. Building a Confined Animal Feeding Operation anywhere within a 10-mile radius of Nevada could not be more short-sighted and stifling to the future growth of Nevada, Iowa. By planting these buildings within sight of the edge of town on the northeast periphery, we would be limiting, if not cutting off completely, future smart growth to the north and the east.

You've heard the farming expression "eating your seed corn"? The proximity of these proposed sites is terrible for the future smart growth and development of what is now a thriving, growing small town in central Iowa. Not only does the Story County Board of Supervisors have a say, it would be short-sighted, negligent and malfeasant not to object to the proposed sites by every means available. Story County Supervisors, Nevada City Council, Nevada Planning & Zoning Commission and residents throughout central Iowa should be given fair and extended hearing, rather than having proposals jammed through the state approval process during the preoccupied 2018 holiday season.

This is, in fact, an exemplary model for Dumb Growth from an economic development and urban planning perspective. Perhaps we should just plant the proposed buildings in downtown Nevada to make sure our storefronts remain full. If they're managed properly, it won't harm anyone, and they'll be a catalyst that stimulates more economic activity!

The essential problem in this case is not with the activity itself, but with the proposed locations of the activity. If we can't count on our elected county and city officials to take a stand and represent the will of the overwhelming majority of its population, who should we turn to?

Even by today's city boundaries, this cannot possibly be the highest and best use of this land two miles outside of Nevada. Imagine what the boundaries will look like in 10 years – IF we're smart. Let's look ahead a decade or two, create a vision, and NOT eat our seed corn.

John Stein