Listen, then act

Published 4:19 pm Thursday, March 22, 2007

By Staff
When it comes to signs that someone is a good leader, listening to what others have to say can be a good indicator of leadership.
During the joint-issues committee meeting Monday, Washington City Council members Archie Jennings and Mickey Gahagan and Greenville City Council members Mildred Council and Ray Craft spent more time listening than talking. They listened to city managers, planners and other local government officials talk about mutual issues of concern.
By talking less and listening more, the elected officials educated themselves. Educated officials mean better-informed officials. And the better a council member is informed, the better he or she can make decisions that affect not only their cities but neighboring cities.
Almost anytime an elected official keeps his or her ears open and mouth shut, that’s a good thing for his or her constituents. During the meeting on Monday, council members did speak, mostly to ask questions or to make their views on an issue known. They weren’t talking just to be talking. They were talking to inform and to be informed.
As the city managers, planners and other officials talked about protecting the U.S. Highway 264 corridor between the two cities from increasing development, including curb cuts and billboards, Jennings, Gahagan, Council and Craft paid close attention and took notes. They realize residents from one city can drive to the other city in about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on which side of the city one departs from.
More development along the corridor would result in more curb cuts. That means more traffic trying to enter or exit the highway. More traffic means an increase in the driving time between the two cities. It’s the existing, relatively short drive time that motorists find appealing when traveling between Greenville’s shopping opportunities and Washington’s calming, relaxing waterfront.
As planners talked about the need for regulations to protect the corridor from too much development, council members listened. Sometime in the future, the near future more than likely, the recommendations they heard likely will become efforts to turn those recommendations into action.
One recommendation was to not allow development to occur in a strip mode along the corridor. Instead, planners suggested, any development that will occur along the corridor should take place in nodes, whether it be commercial development or residential development. That makes sense. By allowing development to take place in a node, access to that development node could be handled by one or two access points. The node may have 10 businesses in it. Instead of each business having access to the highway, which would create at least 10 access points, access to the node and those businesses could be accomplished with just one or two access points.
Would a driver on the highway rather deal with traffic coming from one or two access points or 10 access points? The answer is fairly obvious.
Don’t forget there is some beautiful scenery on the corridor between Washington and Greenville. Allowing development to occur unchecked along the corridor would destroy views of those vistas from the highway.
But as good as it is for elected officials to listen, there come times when they must act. It’s time for Washington’s officials and Greenville’s officials to protect the U.S. 264 corridor from undesirable development. We don’t need for the corridor to become a clogged traffic artery. Clogged arteries of any kind aren’t good for one’s health, even a city’s health.