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Civic Responsibility

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Some time ago I was on a planning commission that was reviewing an application to extend business hours for a small coffee shop. The commission discussed the variations in weekday needs and impacts, on-site employees for preparation and closing, and a myriad of other factors resulting in a complex table of daily opening and closing times.

This small business was located adjacent to a residential development, and there were potential noise and glare impacts from traffic and the outside seating area. The applicant desired to be a good neighbor and was willing to mitigate these with a variety of efforts including “self-policing.” As the commission pointed out, its decision could not be based on the current owner’s behavior because the property could be sold to another, less civic-minded, individual or business.

sign that says Warning: Complex Zoning AheadCan and should we try to regulate everything for the widest range of possible adverse impacts?

I am not so naïve as to advocate replacing development codes with the “golden rule.” But rather than try to proscribe every aspect of human behavior, wouldn’t it be more meaningful to promote civic responsibility?

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