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Editorial: Now is the time to weigh in on improving development codes

Dec. 2, 2017 at 10:23 p.m.


Since Longview adopted its comprehensive plan in 2015, important work has been occurring to make its recommendations reality.

Among those was creation of a unified development code. Simply put, such a code can consolidate all of Longview's development-related regulations into a single resource. That, in theory, will make our city more welcoming to development.

It also is a process for cleaning up antiquated ordinances.

One we think should be cleaned up relates to bed-and-breakfast establishments operating in residential neighborhoods within the city limits. Under ordinance, they are not allowed in such areas.

As was reported last Sunday, however, several B&Bs are operating in Longview. That is good news. Boosted by online marketplaces and booking tools, such lodgings can provide an alternative to hotels and give travelers a way to learn more about Longview, its character and its lovely neighborhoods.

We have no doubt the ordinance was created with best intentions, but now is the time modernize and clean it up so these operations can flourish. It is difficult enough to start a successful business; regulations should not add to that difficulty.

It is telling, we believe, that officials have not received complaints about the B&Bs now in operation, and the city should not be looking for a solution to a problem that does not exist. If there was an outcry of concern from neighbors over these businesses, then the city could rightly look to ordinances for solutions. But that is not the case.

That is why we were pleased to hear Mayor Andy Mack and other members of the City Council last week express their desire that a new unified development code not include new regulations. This is a wise position and one we wholeheartedly agree with. If the city code can be streamlined and truly make Longview a development-friendly town, we will all win.

That is the direction that has been given to the Freese & Nichols consulting firm, which is doing the work to put the regulations into a single resource. We trust the firm will do quality work to organize the regulations, but we see in the example of bed-and-breakfasts the reason we also should take this opportunity to update or eliminate other ordinances that are not serving the public or economic interests of Longview.

The heavy lifting of this work is happening in public meetings now, so this is the time to speak up if there is an ordinance or regulation you think needs to be updated or eliminated. If so, please let your City Council representative know, or let us know and we will share that information with the appropriate officials.

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