After conducting research on the township of Edison and learning about the other towns during the final presentations, the one thing I noticed about planning is that it never goes as planned. There were countless examples of towns with elaborate master plans but the follow through wasn’t as great. From what I have learned, there are many political, social and economic reasons for such delays in execution of plans in a town.
One of the main reasons is political. Even though the master plan is approved by the town, each individual projects within the town have to go through approval as well. Sometime it takes developers years to get a project approved and then many more after its approval for it to complete. Projects go through many changes as the waiting time for approval is stretched out. This hinders a town’s ability to fully carry out its plans for its improvement. In the example of Edison, the Revlon plant was vacant for decades as debate over its future use ensued in the planning board meetings.
One of the reasons for such delays and debates is that when it comes to a land use project in a town, it’s about more than just the developer and the planning board. The residents of a town are a big part of the debate. All three of these entities have their own goals and ideas about what they believe is the best thing to do and the site gets caught up in the middle in its attempt to best please everyone. Not only does this lead to delays in seeking approval of a plan, it also deters developers as they are burdened with the need to satisfy everyone all the while still maintaining to keep their goal of a profit in mind.
Another big driving force behind the success or failure of a plan is the economic part. When money is tight the towns have to make sacrifices and all their plans don’t necessarily go through because something more pressing came up that required the reallocation of the budget. On the developers’ side, some projects never finish because the developer can’t afford it anymore or there is no interest from others in the project that otherwise would have been the source of investment.
Of course, it’s not as simple as just these issues. There are several contributing factors which as a whole result in such disparity in planning and execution. The goal of this post was to identify this trend in the difference between the plan and reality in order to make sure that a great plan on paper isn’t necessarily great when applied.