Guest Opinions

Meridian City Council, enough is enough. Our schools and roads are overcrowded.

Backed-up roads do not make for a livable city, writes Susan Karnes. Pictured here is traffic on Eagle Road near Fairview Avenue.
Backed-up roads do not make for a livable city, writes Susan Karnes. Pictured here is traffic on Eagle Road near Fairview Avenue. doswald@idahostatesman.com

One needs only to spend a lazy afternoon on YouTube watching Meridian’s City Council consider development applications to hear a repetitious refrain from outraged residents:

1. “We bought our home — the biggest investment of our life — because the zoning map said this would be lower density.”

2. “Our schools are overcrowded.”

3. “Our streets cannot handle more rooftops.”

4. “Developers are controlling development.”

5. “This is zoned R-2/R-4/R-8. We do not want a ‘step up’ to higher density.”

If there are qualities we should demand of our elected officials, they should be this: Leadership and vision.

The time has come for Meridian’s City Council to tap on the brakes of runaway growth. Let’s suspend all residential zoning step-ups to higher-density neighborhoods.

No “livable city” has students sitting on the floor in overcrowded schools, roads backed up for miles during rush hour and Meridian’s notion of ample green space (10 percent) that includes in its calculation the “parkway,” or grass between the street and sidewalks.

City Council, tell West Ada School District and ACHD that you’re drawing a line in the sand: Our schools and roads are overcrowded. Enough is enough.

Elevate the city’s code. Provide for some real green space — expanses of grass and walkways where kids can run, adults can breathe, both can wander for peace and well-being.

Let’s make Meridian’s future neighborhoods the gold standard for Treasure Valley. Tap the brakes. We are not opposed to growth, and we certainly support high-density neighborhoods as an essential part of any city. But we are opposed to out-of-control growth with developers being granted “step-ups” in zoning to “medium and high density” from what was intended to be “low density.” We are opposed to step-ups amid no effort to preserve a modicum of large lots for families who want them.

Let’s expedite a new long-range vision for Meridian. The Meridian Southern Rim Coalition, in partnership with our friends across Meridian, has launched the Change.org petitions: “Limit Residential Density in Meridian” and “Protect Meridian’s Southern Rim.” We invite every concerned resident to join us. Tell Meridian City Council to tap the brakes on growth until the Comprehensive Plan is updated and reflects the wishes of Meridian residents.

Sign the petitions by following the links:

www.change.org/p/planning-meridiancity-org-limit-residential-density-in-meridian-idaho

www.change.org/p/protect-meridian-s-southern-rim

Susan M. Karnes is co-founder of the Meridian Southern Rim Coalition, an ad hoc group that advocates thoughtfully managed planning and development in Meridian.

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