Work together to achieve the best community outcome
Reading “In Shock” has helped me put the events of the last week in perspective. I was appalled at the treatment of citizen concerns expressed in this column at the last planning commission meeting. I admit the information conveyed by the village was valuable.
Change management is a science. Fight, flight or freeze are the physical manifestations designed to save us when the environment changes but we don’t know what it holds. The science looks at ways to mitigate our instincts and create defined paths for implementing change in any situation. Defining the issue is a foundational concept. Poorly communicated or vague language around the need for change increases the likelihood change will be fought purely on instinct.
The Gunning-Fog readability index of the ordinance for the proposed language governing height changes between zoning districts is 17.58 academic years. Is it reasonable to blame residents for missing the mark when the writing is designed for experts? I tend to think we should ask our village staff to do better. A simple word, “add”, dramatically changed my understanding of what the village was trying to accomplish. I’m big enough to admit it. I still have several outstanding concerns about the ordinances. I will share them through letters to the editor to engage in civil discourse about issues impacting our community and the future I like to see.
Strategic foresight, or evaluating the potential and possible futures, gives us a more robust planning outcome by accounting for a wider range of scenarios and values. Hence, my compulsion to ask about potential failure points. It isn’t designed to be an attack or undermining of village authority; it is designed to give us the best outcome possible by coming together and discussing the values, needs, and challenges our community is experiencing. We have a lot of smart people in Waunakee. I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot if we fail to solicit and incorporate the wide variety of knowledge, skills, and experience available to us.
Citizen input is important as
I attended the Sept. 10 Planning Commission meeting. I am concerned about a few actions taken by the commission and village lawyer trying to place negative light on citizen concern.
We must understand that their are many facets to every issue.
The idea that growth and development is inevitable and we all need to live with the repercussions is absurd. I thought the Planning Commission was to evaluate development to achieve the best possible outcome for the village. Listening and considering concerns of citizens is an important part of the process.
I left the Planning Commission meeting early, since I walked to the meeting and needed to walk home on streets that are not well lit. On my way to the meeting, I fought heavy traffic. There are many concerns in the village. Development and redevelopment is a part of the hard work needing to be accomplished by the Planning Commission, but not at the expense of current citizens.
Since I left early, I didn’t witness all the conversations that took place. I’m waiting to view the meeting on YouTube or Facebook. I suggest all concerned citizens view this meeting and come to your own conclusions.
The biggest step for citizens to make is to attend Village board meetings and committee meetings to give your input. You are never too old or young to have your voice heard. I realize it’s inconvenient to attend these important meetings, but Waunakee’s future is being decided at every meeting.
Letters to editor expressed concerns
I write as a reply to “Waunakee village attorney responds to letters on zoning changes.” My letter was one of the letters that was scrutinized in the Sept. 10 Plan Commission meeting. At that meeting, the village attorney presented a bullet by bullet presentation of what I and another letter writer wrote in the previous Tribune edition.
The letters to the editor were unfairly denounced as a political tactic and intended to purposefully spread misinformation. “Truth” needs to cut both ways. Both of those statements inaccurately judge my motivations. We were freely expressing our unclarified concerns and using our constitutionally permitted right to free speech and opinion.
I have modified and even pulled letters in the past based on changes in information after submission. The attorney’s first point was in regards to building height. I, and many other citizens, interpreted from the agenda packet for the first zoning change draft that building height would be increased in some zoning districts. The village poorly communicated the full details of the information in any form until the Sept. 10 meeting, and the packet was not released early enough for us to submit a letter with the latest information before the meeting.
Additional clarification and better communication, perhaps by using social media, would have been helpful so citizens would have been able to correctly understand the language and purpose of the changes. Unfortunately, residents had raised these concerns in the past, but they were not addressed. Regarding Sun Prairie’s building height, I misinterpreted the complex and confusing ordinance language. I apologize for this unintended error. The attorney also wrote that the parking changes would only apply to the C-1D zoning district. However, that statement is misleading because while Hovde is zoned C-1D, their off-lot parking is actually zoned G-1 Institutional, so the change might have a broader impact than anticipated.
In addition, a critical commissioner admonished us for putting in letters before meetings. However, this allows citizens to read our points and do their own research if they are interested. I want to give readers ample time to learn about the changes and to consider attending both meetings. The village has my email on file, so committee members and trustees are welcome to contact me if they have concerns with my letters in the future.