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The advantages of collaborative planning have become obvious during the charrette as developer Herb Freeman, members of the PlaceMakers design team, local officials and others have put their heads together. Omaha City Councilman Jim Suttle encouraged the out-of-town consultants: "Bring us your dreams. You may not have some of the bad habits we have, and we want to be prepared to do things differently."

It was the kind of gracious welcome the consultants have become accustomed to in Omaha. The focus of this first formal meeting, however, was less about imported dreams than about common goals. On hand for the meeting were city planners, engineers, utility providers, and transportation specialists - plus officials, such as Councilman Suttle - encouraging designers to link the look and feel of Herb's new community with the economic development potential of the region.

Here are some of the ideas that have emerged from the meetings:
  • Create a monthly networking forum for local developers, realtors, bank officials, and planners.
  • Encourage denser development to make transit more viable while recognizing the necessity of automobiles.
  • Plan for the installation of electric, gas, water, and sewer lines in alleys. No overhead utility lines.
  • Engage with city planners and public works officials on the issues of connectivity - especially with regards to pedestrian-friendly routes to adjacent development.
  • Research the potential for appropriate lighting alternatives, including alternatives rooted in Omaha streetlight traditions and that minimize light pollution.
While there are bound to be some tussles along the road from planning to implementation, everyone in the room seemed open to reasonable approaches.

"What I've noticed from elected officials and city staff," said Herb, "is a very high degree of flexibility and an eagerness to help. I'm convinced there is nothing in the principles of Traditional Neighborhood Development we can't do here."