There's a bruhaha at 24th and Superior over a proposed apartment complex
. There's a nice empty lot just begging to be developed. Unfortunately, neighbors aren't happy about the idea of filling the gap with 94 apartments. The complaints may be nimbyism in action, or they may be based on legitimate gripes. Or both.
Let's think for a moment about a conflict this exposes in Lincoln's future. Planning documents such as the Comprehensive Plan have, for many years, talked about the virtues of denser development. Denser development helps keep down certain infrastructure costs relative to sparser development, among other benefits. There are costs as well, and that's where this scenario comes in.
The area around 24th and Superior already sees a lot of traffic. (Or so I'm told; I don't frequent the area.) The region feels saturated -- there are residences, an elementary school, oodles of businesses, and two major arterials (Superior and 27th) funneling thousands of vehicles into, out of, and through the area. School-related traffic taxes local residential roads in addition to the arterials. So although the lot in question may be zoned for 94 apartments, it's no wonder area residents question the appropriateness of the development given the existing conditions.
Whether or not the complaints about this specific project are valid, if Lincoln really is going to support denser infill development in the coming years we're going to be faced with many situations like this where the local transportation network's capacity will be put to scrutiny. And what if the roads can't handle the proposed traffic? Do we abort the denser development and instead transfer our problems to the city's edge? Do we prioritize updating the roads, trails, and mass transit system? Or do we sacrifice transportation convenience and merely put up with more gridlock, longer drive times, lower fuel efficiency, and diminished quality of life?
These aren't easy questions so it's tempting to brush them aside. We aren't really under all that
much pressure right now to figure out the answers. But it would be a mistake for Lincolnites not to at least begin processing the costs and benefits of various scenarios. Chances are, one of these days you'll find yourself directly affected by this sort of conflict. Have you thought through how it might affect you, or how your reaction might affect the city as a whole?