I attended the St. John planning commission public hearing meeting on Monday evening to observe Schilling Builder’s approval process for a subdivision of 450 homes at the corner of 93rd, 101st, and White Oak. It was a civics lesson on the power of the people.
Schilling Builders is highly respected for well built homes. We live in one. They are solid and beautiful. Schilling doesn’t skimp. And, they lay out a subdivision well. The new subdivision plan is a beauty including parks, sidewalks, and larger than average St. John lots. However, St. John is experiencing a growing traffic flow issue which the town fathers seemingly aren’t addressing. I attended the planning commission survey meeting back in September, and the principal citizen concerns were traffic and possible imminent domain reclamation of a few homes in the way of a proposed city center. After possible imminent domain issues, traffic concerns were loud and many. 3 months later the planning commission heard the same complaints. Schilling intends to add a couple left turn lanes, acceleration and de-acceleration lanes on 93rd, and sidewalks around the perimeter of the development on White Oak and 93rd to tie into long term plans for city sidewalks, but this was not enough to satiate the crowd. They felt ignored and unheard. One speaker promised to form a concerned citizens group to keep a vigilant eye on the board.
Here’s the gist of concerns. The traffic lines up traveling east on 93rd before the Wicker/41 stoplight reaches back to the park in the late afternoon rush hour. Traffic attempting to turn left from north/south roads onto 93rd west of Wicker/41 during rush hour wait for minutes before the road clears. Traffic turning left heading east or west on 93rd to the west of Wicker/41 stalls the steady column of cars moving east/west. 450 more homes representing roughly 1000 additional vehicles will only add to the congestion. The angry crowd made their concerns known. After the public listening session, one commissioner, after a pregnant pause, finally made a motion to proceed with granting approval to the plan. There was no second. No one dared after the 45 minutes of public outcry. The motion was tabled.
It was obvious to me that city fathers hadn’t done their homework. A traffic study had been commissioned, but the results were not finalized. Worse, there was no specific study of the 93rd/101st/White Oak area for the ramifications of 450 new homes. While I suspect the development will receive approval soon, it reminded me that sometimes those “in the know” can get it wrong. And sometimes the general public, though probably less proficient in the subject area gets it right. The planning commission will reconvene soon, and I suspect they’ll do their homework and make some additional road plans. City growth is exciting, but it has its frustrations.
Pathway Church is growing. Growth is exciting and is a blessing. Yet, growth also has its challenges. It will be important that committees, leadership team, and key volunteers listen carefully even as they make decisions and push for more growth. Sometimes the “experts” miss a call. May our leaders humbly listen.
On the other side of the coin, leaders ought never to make it their mission to simply solve complaints. Listen, but do so carefully. If a leadership team chases complaints, we will not make wise decisions. Then those who are leading are simply those who are complaining. However, it will be those who quickly complain that often pick up on something first that leaders should be aware of. May God give Pathway leaders the humility to listen carefully, yet the courage to lead missionally. It is not the Pathway leader’s job to satisfy people, but to lead us in our mission at helping all of St. John in her next spiritual steps. And may God do amongst us immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. To Him be the glory in His church forever and ever.