Letter: Urban Institute's real mission is to restrict property use

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 11, 2006

Friday’s editorial cited UNCC Urban Institute survey results that an overwhelming majority of respondents in our region support restrictions on property to preserve “open spaces.” The concerns of private property owners were brushed aside because property rights are said to be our “first, last and only consideration.”

I followed the editor’s link to the UNCC Urban Institute for the results of the survey. I could not find the survey itself, which would have been interesting, as I suspect its entire focus was geared toward suggesting the answer they were seeking: that preservation of open spaces be placed at or near the top of our region’s political agenda and promoted as “the larger public sentiment.” I come to this conclusion from reading the “Mission Statement” of the Urban Institute’s Open Spaces Institute of the Carolinas, which can be found at www.ui.uncc.edu/OSI%20Mission .pdf. Among their stated mission goals are to “define and achieve a shared regional open space vision” and to “educate the region’s citizens on the need, the benefits, and the means of protecting open space.”

“Open spaces” is, in essence, what they DO.

Thus, it could be said of the institute that placing restrictions on property in order to promote open spaces is its “first, last, and only consideration,” too. It can be expected that Rowan County residents will soon hear more about “smart growth,” “new urbanism” and “sustainable communities” as we seek the direction our county’s land use planning will take. Rowan County deserves honest and open dialogue that hears all sides of this issue, and not merely regional efforts to manipulate our local elected leaders in order to serve their organizations’ narrow, but well-funded, goals. That did not work in 2004, and the results of a one-sided survey should not be any more persuasive now.

— Jeff Morris