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Eminent Domain

Posted: March 25, 2009 19:58:03 • 496 words

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Once again, Harrisonburg utterly fails at city planning. This is getting really old.

In an effort to turn every square foot of undeveloped land into high-density townhouses/apartments, the city let a developer pretty much go nuts with a section of land that isn't very easy to get to. The area grew up, lots of people moved in, and...oh look, a road that most residents didn't know we had now has too much traffic on it. Funny how that works, considering that the exact same thing happened with the Harrisonburg Crossing shopping center ("uh, why do we have constant gridlock on the only road that leads to our new shopping center?").

So, they want to extend the road (which is currently a dead-end) and connect it to a major road a block away. Fine, whatever, this happens all the time. Except, instead of determining in advance where the road should go and routing it properly, they waited until the last minute, and decided that the only way it could connect is by running it right through someone's house. Oh, and it's among the oldest houses in the area.

You'd think that historical preservation would be a high priority for region obsessed with the "War of Northern Aggression", but in this case, the city appears to not care. Nice.

The claim that "improved fire department access" is a reason for doing this is particularly amusing. There's a small fire department on the road they want to extend, and they presumably want to make it easier for them to get to apartments along the road they want to connect to. Except, they don't really have that much trouble with that now. It only adds an extra half-block to take the current route instead of the proposed route, and while there is a bad intersection involved, it's only bad because of traffic on those roads. The visibility is pretty awesome, and if you're in a big loud truck with spinny red lights, it's a breeze to get through. Add a well-adjusted traffic light with an Opticom sensor to it, and you'll not only make it a safer intersection for everyone, but you create a prioritized route for fire trucks. I fail to see how making a new intersection, which is guaranteed to have poor visibility due to the surrounding area, is a superior idea in that regard.

I used to really like Harrisonburg, but it continually does everything wrong when it comes to running a city. They let developers run wild in the name of growth, without any consideration for what will happen, and it's getting worse every year. I don't even want to think about the gigantic new downtown apartment complex with no parking areas is going to do to that part of town. Combined with everything else, I've pretty much stopped caring about Harrisonburg as a city, and I don't plan to make this my home any longer than I have to.