The Logansport City Council meeting a week ago Monday was dominated by a discussion of the new Downtown Development Board, and in a real sense, the kind of discussion that has been going on for years about downtown.

When it ended, the council voted 4-3 to send back the concept of the board to the Logansport Planning Commission. At issue is a classic confrontation between supporters of improving downtown and property owners who are worried both about city control — or the lack of it. This week, Mayor Mike Fincher announced he was vetoing the vote, essentially forcing the council to come up with a fifth vote to override his decision.

The issue arose when a new business, Blue Ribbon Doughnuts, faced a denial for a banner on a flagpole at its Fifth Street shop. The banner issue was revisited again by Diane Murphy of Blue Ribbon, by council members, the mayor and Downtown Development Board members.

There is plenty of blame to be shared for the feelings that have been hurt over downtown businesses being unable to do what they want to their own properties. The council, the board, the planning commission, property owners and even the media could be blamed for not fostering a better local discussion about downtown improvement issues. In the weeks and months ahead, the board, hopefully, will meet with downtown business leaders and listen to their concerns about the board, what’s needed downtown and what is not needed.

Controlling development downtown, particularly development that has already happened, is not a good idea. Properties “grandfathered” in under the city/county zoning ordinance were not required to change when the ordinance took effect, and the same precedent should follow with the board.

Abolishing the board, however, is not the right course to take. The board was established to address structural issues of development and to create a general theme and atmosphere of a progressive downtown. Meetings such as the council meeting are signs of the growing pains the downtown is facing. One business owner, Tom LaDow, said in a committee meeting beforehand he would like to see more intervention in properties such as the one next to his store that has removed windows and replaced them with cement blocks. Harold Jackson, an investor in Bankers Row, a downtown historic district, said he has spent $50,000 in properties on the street, and he did it because he thought the city was headed in the right direction with downtown development.

To that end, the city is, and generally has been heading in the right direction for the better part of the past decade. But giving up on the Downtown Development Review Board would be a 180-degree turn city officials should not make. Redefining what the community wants is essential. For starters, signage is an issue that should be addressed along with other signage in the community through the planning commission and Logansport Board of Zoning Appeals. Exceptions could be made for downtown standards.

Suggesting possible colors that complement the downtown is fine. Mandating the colors is another thing entirely.

The true colors of downtown development do not involve the bright blue building at Sixth and Market city officials have frequently referred to, but what can be done to promote economic development downtown. The council was not prepared to vote on an economic development target area resolution for downtown, even though it was on the agenda. This resolution should have been voted on years ago to promote retail and residential development.

Logansport was on the right path when former Main Street Coordinator Linda Klinck designated a model block for downtown. Continuing that concept with another block and eventually other blocks would be a natural continuum of design standards that would promote style through evolution, not revolution.

Finally, in the spirit of community cooperation, it would be helpful for the Chamber of Commerce, Logan’s Landing Association, the board, Bankers Row and downtown business owners to sit down over some doughnuts and coffee and find common ground. Folks did that at the confluence of the rivers downtown when they named Logansport. It took a shooting match to decide that issue. It shouldn’t take guns to iron out this one.

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