Community meetings are great, but why not post those development plans on the Internet where everyone can see them?

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    Today’s Aegis reports that the Harford County Council has unanimously approved a bill that would require developers to hold a community meeting on any development of more than five lots before they submitted their site plans to the county for approval. This should be good news for at least one of my readers who suggested very much the same thing on this blog just a few days ago. Councilwoman Roni Chenowith (R-Fallston and Abingdon District B) expressed concerns that the bill would add another layer of bureaucracy while not requiring developers to do anything more than listen to citizen comments, the story said. There was mention from others in the story that these community meetings might be added to the zoning code — currently undergoing a rewrite — and that placing it there might give it more impact. After reading the story I thought wouldn’t it be great if they required those plans to be posted on the Internet? If they’re in cyberspace, then anyone can see them anytime. Residents can copy them to their neighborhood association blog (if they have one) to let their neighbors know. I could post it on the BelAirDevelopmentWiki where anybody could comment on it. If the county required the plans to be posted on the county’s website, they could offer RSS feeds that residents could subscribe to so anyone interested would catch a feed on their feed reader every time a new development proposal was submitted. Residents could comment on the county’s site and planners could take those comments into consideration when deciding whether to approve the projects. The community meetings, which the Aegis story said must be held near the proposed site of the new development, are still a great idea. But why not give everyone a heads-up ahead of time so that they can go to the meetings prepared? The Internet can really focus a little sunshine on the development process without taking a lot of time or effort. All you have to do is post those plans where the community can see them.