Is City Hall listening?

In most communities, zoning is the vehicle to achieve what the citizens want for their neighborhoods and to prohibit activities that are inconsistent with the broader policies of the City. In Lebanon, this has not been accomplished because the current zoning ordinance was enacted prior to the 2006 Master Plan and the 2009 Principles for a Sustainable Community adopted by the City Council. Since 1999, the City has been trying to reconcile municipal policy, the Master Plan, and the Future Land Use Map with the Lebanon Zoning Ordinance which is outdated.

This process continues with a revision of the current Master Plan, now projected to be completed sometime in 2010-- although it is already over one year behind schedule. Once this is done, the planning and zoning departments of the City intend to propose another citywide rezoning and hope that the voters embrace it this time since it failed in 2008. Meanwhile, developers keep building according to the old rules which everyone seems to agree is not what the residents of Lebanon really want.

The “safety valve” for this process is a voter-initiated petition if the citizens become frustrated by the delays. This makes sense since all major zoning changes in Lebanon must be approved by the voters anyway. The River Park rezoning was initiated by 138 Lebanon residents because they want to achieve a plan for West Lebanon that they helped create and to support Lyme Properties’ efforts to implement the River Park Master Plan. Is City Hall listening?