Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hail our self-appointed Commissar

Here's a letter to our local newspaper from a resident who'd like to turn Steamboat Springs into a People's Republic.

Walgreens is proposing to build a new store here. It's bad enough that they have to jump through numerous hoops to satisfy additional planning requirements imposed by our left-leaning community on "big box" retailers. Apart from satisfying the City Council's self-appointed and self-important arbiters of architectural taste by modifying the external look of the proposed building and landscaping, the developer has gone so far as to offer to provide affordable housing as well. In fact, The City has been jerking the developer's chain for over a year now and has moved the goalposts several times, but the developer has been nothing but the picture of co-operation.

But that's not enough for this budding Commissar:

The Today [our local paper] asserts that Walgreens should be approved for the simple fact that the developers have successfully negotiated the "big-box" ordinance review and done as the Steamboat Springs City Council asked. In short, the Today is arguing that because the developer correctly checked off the boxes of the planning process, thus empowering the City Council to have it built "our way," then it should get the thumbs up.

...My question is this: Why Walgreens? What can a person get at Walgreens that you cannot already get in town? ...I am not against development, but big business can be managed only at a local level, and it is up to us and our council members to do this. Just because it is getting "built on our terms" does not mean that it is a good idea. I'm simply not convinced that Walgreens is the best idea.

This guy wants the government to decide which stores can come to town and which can't and to pass judgement on what ought to be sold and what should not. He goes on to try to justify it in terms of what the market is looking for:

We are a community built on tourism. People come here for a unique experience and glimpse of a unique lifestyle, Western and terrain park. In my opinion, these businesses such as Walgreens fall into one category: Generica. Nobody travels across the country to visit a place that is down the street in their hometown. How does this enhance the guest experience? How does this perpetuate this "local flavor" that has come to attract so many people?

Well here's an idea. If he's so sure nobody wants to shop there, why doesn't he just wait for them to fold, or better yet, put up his own money to create the type of retailing establishment he's so self-righteously convinced that everyone would prefer. Or better yet, he could move to an actual People's Republic like North Korea. They don't have any Walgreens there.

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