Friday, August 19, 2005

Bellevue shows vision

Larger cities with far more resources could learn from the city of Bellevue's determination to view commercial development with a critical eye and not simply be bowled over by promises of economic riches.

The Bellevue City Council is fashioning an ordinance that would require businesses proposing to construct structures with more than 10,000 square feet to conduct studies on what impact might result on the community.

The impacts Bellevue's council has in mind would be new burdens placed on streets and traffic, parking, emergency fire and police services, parks. Perhaps most important is a call for assessing the impacts of a big-box store on the economy.

These add demonstrable costs to a city's operations, and are not readily recovered except from existing taxpayers, which surely is not fair.

With land still available for development, Bellevue will be high on the list of large businesses hoping to cash in on the area's rapid growth. The large retailer Home Depot apparently considered a big-box store for Bellevue for a time—an example of how a small community could be overwhelmed with new costs.

While considering the benefits of new businesses in their community, Bellevue citizens should support their council's foresight in requiring potential developers of such structures to study and then pay for new burdens on the community.

The ultimate test, however, still is what sort of quality of life the residents of Bellevue want and whether large commercial structures are compatible with those standards.

In the end, some economic gains created by a large developer might not be worth what else Bellevue residents would lose.

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