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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Troy Zoning Board of Appeals - April 2016 Meeting Recap

City staff has posted the video recording of the 4/19/16 Troy Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting to YouTube. At the bottom of this post is the video. (The meeting actually starts shortly after the 20 second mark of the video.)

Click here to download the entire Agenda Packet from the April 19th meeting.

There were two items on the agenda:
  • A variance for 1978 Sparrow (to construct an addition to the house). At the request of the petitioner, this item was postponed to our May meeting.

  • A variance for 1321 Boyd (to split a parcel of land into 2 parcels). The ZBA voted on two resolutions to deny the variance. I voted "yes" on both resolutions. Both resolutions to deny the variance failed. The ZBA then voted to postpone action on this item to our May meeting.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Reading Joel Kotkin's "The Human City"

Once per week, I receive a Joel Kotkin Advisory email. Kotkin is an urbanist and demographer.

Here's some of the content from the 4/13/16 email...
Internationally recognized urbanist and demographer Joel Kotkin challenges conventional urban-planning ideologies in his new book, The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us. Kotkin has been described as "America's uber-geographer" by David Brooks of the New York Times, and in his eighth book he examines the good, the bad, and the ugly of high-density environments and the possible alternatives. Trends show that modern megacities and "pack-and-stack" living do not consider the needs of the general population. Trends also show that these living methods may be detrimental to future generations. Kotkin calls for dispersed neighborhoods centered on human values, and more diverse options for every stage of life. The Human City reminds us that in order to be sustainable, we must help shape our future and not become the products of demographic and economic forces.

To celebrate the book's publication, we are sharing a Q&A with the author.

This book is somewhat controversial, as it challenges the dominant view held by most city planners and urban developers. Was there a specific moment in your career when you realized that the almost exclusive focus on high-density development might not be the best option for the global population?

Much of this realization came from spending time in places like Mumbai, Mexico City, Hanoi, and other cities in developing countries. I also learned a great deal about the downsides of over-urbanization in East Asia. In East Asia, conditions are better than they are in developing countries, but there are other negative factors, such as low rate of family formation and childbearing. Here in North America and in Europe, high-density urbanism has some of the same effects, but the option of moving to less dense (and usually less expensive) cities and suburbs remains a viable option as people enter their 30s. The key is to give people, and families, choices.
Click here to read the entire Q&A with Joel Kotkin.

After reading these Q&As, I plan on ordering The Human City on my next pay day at work!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Finished "It’s OK To Say God"

Finally got around to reading It’s OK to Say God: Prelude to a Constitutional Renaissance by Tad Armstrong. I was pleasantly surprised by Armstrong's viewpoint.

Here's a quote from Armstrong on page 319 of his book...
There is a place for religion in the public square. It is that narrow place where the freedom of speech and the freedom to exercise one's religion trump governmental intrusion into a holy domain. It is a president's personal right to add "so help me God" to his oath and, so long as public funds are not tapped, it is his right to invite ministers to pray at his inauguration. On the other hand, there is a proper time for religion to distance itself from government for the sake of its own survival.
After finishing this book, I do believe Tad Armstrong avoids the errors that Derek Rishmawy discusses in the article Huckabee and the Heresy of Americanism.