Suppose you’all have been waiting breathlessly for our take on the meeting on the MPS draft last night so here it is for what it is worth.
First: There was a petition you could sign before you went if you didn’t want the R1 zone eliminated. Some signed before, some after the meeting. If you ask around you can probably find it and add your name to it.
Second: Full house. Think that was due to the scary flyer [“Property values at risk”] in the post office rather than the milquetoast mailout from the Town. When asked why so few of the controversial details had been left off the Town’s version the deputy mayor said that they wanted to keep it short and “get people out” to the meeting where more details could be given. The Town should have mentioned the most contentious details themselves if they wanted to get people out.
Third: Presentation – glossy, lots of maps, which were also in large versions on the walls. Also lots of carefully chosen and sterile pictures of Wolfville (very few people in any of the pics we noted which we thought a Freudian slip. Are they thinking of people and how they like to live?). We didn’t count the number of times sustainable or sustainability was mentioned but it was frequent. They did get a few compliments on it; some people are easily impressed by power points. Nothing much new in it for us except we found out the contract planner’s father lived in Wolfville which she mentioned presumably to assure us she cares about the Town. Oh, yes, and that they project that the town might, just maybe, double in population in about 50 years based on the present LUB and they could squeeze a few more thousand into that growth by the density changes they proposed.
Lastly: Question and commentary period.
The push for growth that one resident thought was implied by the presentation was questioned. Why concentrate on growth and development? Why not concentrate on quality of life. This was mentioned later by other residents as well.
One very interesting comment came from some guy who lived in an R1 zone, has a PHD in Ecology and international experience in sustainability issues, and had been asked to sit on the Sustainability Task Force early on but then was never called again after he said yes. He said he had gone around and talked to about 140 people in the R1 zone and not one had been consulted by the Town and every single one of them wanted it retained and passionately so. He also said that he was fully aware that the term sustainability was “used and abused” all over the place.
Another comment came from a young woman who said she lived in the town as a student and stayed in town afterward and was raising a family here in spite of the extra expense (higher cost of housing and higher taxes) and she wanted to continue to live in a R1 zone not in a higher density zone with all the student “rowdies”, which kind of squashed the Town’s argument that eliminating R1 would attract more young families.
The Town in their responses often mentioned affordability which prompted several in the gallery to mention that lower taxes would help on that score. One man even asked the deputy mayor directly why taxes in Wolfville were so high. Bob wormed his way out of that one by responding that towns have a higher burden of expense than the county- which doesn’t of course answer why taxes are higher here than in other towns around.
There was the odd booster – at least one young guy (a student?) was certainly a plant as he gushed way too much- but our feeling was that most residents there were not really happy with the changes, especially the elimination of R1.
At 9:30 they closed it down, although we think there were more questions. Guess these over worked people don’t stay up very late.
We would be interested in your impressions if you attended.