Zoning laws: Wasilla is no Wayland
Sarah Palin has sought to connect with voters in the "lower 48" by telling them Alaska is just a microcosm of the United States. It seems doubtful that the GOP vice presidential candidate has been to a town meeting in Massachusetts.
For while residents here treat proposals for zoning relief as nothing less than potential threats to life as we know it, Palin has had a decidedly different view of rules governing what gets built where: She’s against them. Perhaps it’s because of the complete disconnect between the approaches to land use in Wasilla and Wayland that the Boston Globe’s Sasha Issenberg reports a 1,400-word story from Wasilla on Palin’s zoning record that has the feel of an anthropological account of a distant civilization.
The municipality Palin repeatedly heralded as a classic "small town" in her convention speech has no discernible center and a Main Street in name only. To its critics, Wasilla has become a famously bad example of suburban growth even by the standards of Alaska, a place where city planners have long noted a dangerous combition of too much land and too few rules about how to build on it.
"Every time we meet with people for the first time, they say, ‘We don’t want our town to be like Wasilla,’" said Thea Agnew Bemben, a planner whose firm has worked in neighboring communities.