Monday, June 2, 2008

Praise For ZBA

Here's a letter I wrote to our little town newspaper about a proposed shopping mall in town that will destroy many acres of mature forest adjacent to a cranberry bog. I just e-mailed it in and, just as letters to my local representatives go unanswered, I suspect this will go unprinted, so I put it here:

I applaud the ZBA for sticking to its guns on requiring the developer of Sharon Commons to provide an irrevocable letter of credit before denuding many acres of forest in Sharon. We only have to look at a recent project on North Main Street to see what we are left with after the bulldozers scrape away thousands of years of natural and human history for yet another ill-conceived project.

Look around. Walpole Mall is expanding. Patriot Place in Foxboro is building a moonscape of asphalt and big-box stores. A new mall just opened in Mansfield. There are plans for a mega-development in Westwood. Store after store have just opened in Stoughton and Avon. Who on Earth is going to patronize all these malls? The chances of another mall in Sharon thriving are slim indeed.

The age of happy motoring to the mall is OVER. Gas just hit four bucks a gallon and the price of all energy has nowhere to go but up. We need developers with a new vision for a new century. We need communities where people can live, work and shop without constantly hopping into the car. We need architecture that lifts the spirit and is built for the ages, not just more flat-topped boxes with fake stucco exteriors and high fossil fuel inputs. We need community-based businesses, not just more giant corporate parasites who suck wealth from our home town by selling more of the same imported junk.

Sweeping changes to the "non-negotiable" American lifestyle are being negotiated right now by forces largely beyond our control. We'd better take a place at the table before it's too late.

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