Something happened the other night at our planning board meeting that made me gasp and lean forward in my chair. Here's the rundown- there are several members on our planning board that have joined the board over the past year so as to stop any kind of regulation. They're completely pro-property rights to the exclusion of any community-oriented regulation and they make no bones about expressing this desire. Nothing new with that situation.
Tuesday, however, was fascinating. A one-lot minor subdivision was before the board and seemed, at first, simple enough. The board appeared to be barely paying attention as they prepared their rubber stamps for the application. As the night progressed, however, more and more of the neighbors came forward and began talking about real problems: the road was already too narrow for our current standards and two different firetrucks couldn't pass at the same time. The cul-de-sac wasn't wide enough for people to properly turn around in and folks were consistently sliding into the ditch in the winter. There was only a single access (also against code). Several other points (good points that weren't just NIMBY reactions) were brought up which, essentially, showed that this was an unsafe subdivision. As the board discussed all this, you could visibly see the property-rights advocates struggling with all this as their values (that people should be able to do whatever they wanted with their property) crashed up against the practicalities of the situation (it was already an unsafe subdivision and they were about to make it that much more unsafe). They eventually approved the subdivision with conditions, but in my opinion, it was a huge step for them to realize that yes, this is why we try and do good planning.
Anyway, as always, watching the community dynamics was fascinating and I was wondering if anybody else had stories of these little moments when folks who are ordinarily dead-set against government regs or government planning had a sudden revelation. Any thoughts on how to work with people like this and speed up the process?