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Rezoning caution warranted, but so is all due speed


Advanced planning has never been an apparent strength in this community born of the Great Depression, which is why anytime the subject of zoning comes up, wise people flee to the hills.

But this time it must be different. Grand Coulee’s planning commission and the citizens it serves have an important and urgent task ahead: rezoning the area that contains the former Center School, while balancing the needs of its neighbors and the rest of the city.

Zoning — the statutory planning of development and growth within a community — is tricky business. It needs community insight and input, often mixed with heavy doses of creativity and compromise. The planning commission is right to proceed cautiously, and certain timelines are set by law that ensure the process can’t be rushed.

Even so, the commission should proceed as quickly as possible. The old school is quickly turning into a blight that, left unchecked, will drag down the value of every property in the city and which becomes less valuable, less likely by the month to be reinvigorated into a community asset.

Anyone interested in redeveloping that property has to know what kind of uses will be allowed. No one will want to invest in it as long as that is an unknown.

Going through the process of the vital discussion about what uses should be allowed, and figuring out how the technicalities of a new zoning map will fit in with the surrounding area are crucial steps. The city knew long before the old school was emptied of students in 2013 that those steps had to be taken. It’s long past time to get started.

Scott Hunter

editor and publisher

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