Recently, I took part in a forum with my running mates for City Council’s District 6. We were asked a question about the annexation agreement that the current owners would like changed. A federal judge rejected the request to alter the original vision for the Banning Lewis Ranch development, but the current owners are looking to City Council to see their position and support the development of undeveloped land. I truthfully admitted that I was unable to answer this question that evening, and gave my word that I would look at the issue and answer it the next time it was asked of me.
This is my position:
Banning Lewis Ranch (BLR) is a work in progress. The homes are quite stunning and the planned neighborhoods make it so nice for families to walk with their children and pets. There are small parks here and there between neighborhoods. No fast traffic whizzing by so very little danger to a loose pet or a curious child. There is a nice school that looks similar to a barn and it was wonderful to see children playing with no fences keeping a bouncing ball in the school yard. You see the fences are not needed because the traffic is light and moves quite slowly, due to the design.
The Annexation agreement was one developed in 1988 for the BLR area. Bankruptcy and the death of the owner had caused big eyes looking to make big changes to this development. The new owners see this development as a money maker, and indeed it certainly would be. But not without a price.
This area is a family neighborhood. There are not many like these left. Progress encroaches such neighborhoods and brings with it traffic, more risk to the community, moving wildlife further from their home, and a fair amount of pollution. It’s not possible to add just one small business. More will come. The landscape of the neighborhood begins to change. Children and pets are no longer safe to explore what once used to be grassy knolls or textured trails.
Better plans and ideas are available for the area specified in the Annexation agreement. Plans which would connect trails, a green belt, and all without changing the face of a family development. The wildlife can still graze in the grassy fields and laze in the warm sun on cool grass if they choose. Families can still jog while small children accompany them, possibly learning to balance their bikes for the first time. Pets will still be able to take in those good sniffs the land provides, without concern for pollution or poisons.
So when I’m asked about the Annexation agreement, my answer is this: Yes, it does need to be updated for a changing society, but these changes must be in the best interest of the families who have set down roots here and envisioned a clean, safe and majestic tomorrow. So I will look for ways to preserve the original vision of BLR, while meeting the needs of the people who live in the community.