Wednesday night at the Kings Contrivance Village Board meeting I saw a
presentation by Wegman's. The Wegman's proposal includes Wegman's paying for
significant road improvements in that area where they are planning on building
at the corner of Snowden River Parkway and McGaw Road. If more developers
demonstrated this willingness to mitigate the traffic problems they create we
would not be having such a problem with downtown Columbia redevelopment.
Evan also provides a link to an earlier post he wrote in which he advocates for placing :”big box” stores (such as Best Buy) in the village centers (and by the way, check out Mike Drakos' comment on the linked post. It is lengthy, but well written. I could not say it any better).
I suppose it is clear now, Evan is in love with big box stores. He advocates shopping at such centers, and now he terms the Wegmans construction responsible because they will build more roads; further enforcing the dominance of the automobile over the pedestrian. Evan Coren is the face of sprawl.
Moreover, it appears that Evan boils development down to a single issue: traffic. I have to wonder, if WCI put a turn lane in front of the Plaza Tower, could we expect Evan to whole-heartedly endorse the building? It is hard to say.
What Evan may not realize is that Wegmans had to provide traffic mitigation measures. The traffic generated for the store will clearly change the level of service (and by that I mean traffic volume) on McGaw Road. The County requires developers to provide traffic mitigation if their development will cause a change in level of service to the road. Another point Evan may not realize is that in downtown Columbia the intersections are designated as “constrained road facilities.” This means that if development causes a change in level of service, the intersections cannot be modified because of their “unique urban character.” (Now clearly, if the downtown intersections get to the point that they fail, the State of Maryland will require mitigation.) So Evan is triumphing something that Wegmans was required to do by law and denigrating other development that is required by law to do nothing.
What I would like to see Wegmans do is go a little above and beyond what is required (and yes, I may sound a little CoFoCoDo-ish in saying this). I think we can all agree that putting Wegmans next to Snowden River Parkway will increase traffic which will result in more greenhouse gases emitted and more pollution. I say why not try to mitigate not only the traffic, but the environmental externality as well. Could we ask Wegmans to build a bus stop at their store (thereby allowing access without the use of a car) and to donate two new hybrid buses to the County (further reducing the carbon footprint). Lastly, have the Wegmans building constructed and certified to at least LEED silver standards (the bus stop construction will go a long way to achieve this goal). It is my hope that this is a modest proposal, and could be used to minimize the effects of Wegmans on the region.