Walkerton Can Tackle Empty Lots Through Land Use Incentives And Regulation

January 21, 2020

The Walkerton Town Council can increase sustainability and community character through its development strategy under the Main Street Program.  Planning tools like the recent 2018 and 2019 DT Walkerton walkability surveys can address the empty lots and density.  Capitalizing on new land use and zoning regulation can have a tremendous effect, either good or bad, on the overall feeling, functionality and livability of the community.

 

 

The strategy from town leaders shapes not only the face of the community, but also the interactions of the built environment to those who populate it.  By implementing effective land use policy in these areas in combination with regulations dictating the appropriate and desired form of the built environment, Walkerton may achieve the density required for its unique character and the principles of sustainability.  Especially, gaining a supermarket, housing units, and lodging.
 
A development plan addressing these issues can be very effective in driving density to desired areas and dictating how those areas look and function within the core of Walkerton.  By enacting a prescriptive as opposed to proscriptive code, the Walkerton community can more thoroughly dictate how and where growth and densification are achieved. The empty lots around town and on Roosevelt are apparent. Though, there are some significant challenges to implementing a new comprehensive development strategy inline with the concepts set forth here.  The town needs to enact funding.

 

 

 Change will provide great gains in overall livability, and sustainability.  To effectively implement the changes, some consensus between the various community stakeholders is required.  Although this can require additional time to create and implement the plan, that time is largely recouped by increased administrative and site review efficiencies once a plan is in place.  There tends to be far fewer challenges to proposed projects once the desired form and density of the community has been established.

 

 

A community seeking densification through the use of land use regulations and planning tools must be cognizant of more than just the sustainable aspects that come with a dense, well-planned urban core.  Ultimately, the commercial sector must support whatever the development plan establishes. 

 

If the market will not support the plan, developers will not build the projects, and the effort expanded accomplishing changes to the land use planning regime will have been a waste of community resources?  This has happened in numerous municipalities that have implemented changes in an attempt to densify their urban environment through the use of emerging trends in community planning throughout Indiana.
 

 

There is a significant amount of time and work associated with implementing these types of changes, from finding agreement among competing stakeholders to codifying any agreed upon regulations.  By planning now, Walkerton has the ability to properly position itself for the changes that are surely forthcoming?   
 
There exists implications if Walkerton continues to linger unchecked.  The problems inherent in auto-culture sprawl will remain.  Is there really a need to force a parking requirement in town? Single-use, auto-dependent residents will continue to experience the environmental, social and physical health problems associated with conventional zoning and land use regulations.

 

 

 The “drive to qualify” concepts of single-family home ownership will continue to create infrastructure and commuting issues. Unbounded, the community will have limited opportunity to create the requisite density for a thriving, attractive community that is so characteristic of renowned traditional towns in the state.

 
Lack of a dense urban center with an appropriate mix of uses:  residential, commercial, recreational, civic and transport – will severely reduce the benefits of other sustainable measures discussed within the framework of a strategy.   
 

 

The role of land use law must work together with zoning and urban-form regulation to create vibrant, well-mixed places in Walkerton.  These two regulating regimes, working in concert, can result in a sustainable community that benefit the population, the environment and the economy.  But a concern arises if this synergistic regulatory authority is too limited in either its geographic scope or the rigidity with which it is enforced.

 

These density- driving land-use policies, commonly referred to as urban growth boundaries, appear in many forms.  Land use constraints may be too narrowly focused to have any wide-reaching benefit if the availability of more rentals and lodging is not discussed for downtown. The Walkerton Main Street Program can tackle the emptiness through their creative energy.

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