Not All Development Is Created Equally
Kent works hard to encourage quality development. We promote sustainability and seek to strike a balance between environmental protection, historical character, quality of life, development rights and business opportunities. We want growth and redevelopment that complements and improves upon what we have today. We don’t want growth for growth sake. We want growth that makes Kent better. As simple as all this sounds, doing it is actually quite a tall order. One thing I’ve learned along the way is that not all development is created equal.
First off, development is not for the faint hearted nor for those with a weak constitution. It’s a roller coaster ride that can carry you all the way to the top only to take you crashing down the other side in a matter of seconds, leaving you with no other choice than to throw your hands up and scream.
It’s misunderstood and much maligned when we don’t agree with it but it can also be the saving grace when it all works out to our favor. It’s definitely got that wolf in sheeps clothing thing going on with promises made at every turn and heartbrakes over deals that didn’t pan out. Frankly it’s a lightening rod no matter which side of the fence you sit.
So why do we do it? Because Darwin was on to something when he noted that those animals that are most capable of adapting are most likely to survive and thrive. The same holds true for cities. Unfortunately, the hands of time move in only one direction so resting on the laurels of our past success is not an option. If we’re not moving forward, we’re losing ground like a melting ice cube.
The trouble is there is no instant pudding in development yet there’s a contagious fever to development prospects that dangle the promise of better days with the next deal of the cards. The winner has got to be in this next hand. This creates a mania for those that work in it everyday. They’re close enough to see and smell it but they just can’t grab it. Meanwhile the pressures mount, expectations rise and the community need for the revenues from new development grows desparate.
I’m reminded of a scene from Where the Wild Things Are and Max shouts “Let the rumpus begin!” It’s easy to slide down this slippery slope and on some level come to believe in development at all costs. But that’s the beginning of the end.
Somewhere in the middle is that ground where we find the right project and take bold actions to make it happen. One of the things that I find very interesting is the balance between revenues and expenses from different types of development. There’s actually been quite a bit of study of how much different land uses bring in new revenues versus how much they consume in service expenses. A few of the findings of these “Cost of Service Studies” are displayed below:
Development can bring in new revenues but it’s not free. These are just a few more balls to juggle as we try to find the right development mix for Kent.