Some Lancaster town officials have just come up with a unique planning concept: Dig a deep hole, and pull the town in after them.
That's the message delivered last week when Lancaster Planning Board Chairman David C. Marrano's hopes for joint meetings with planners in neighboring towns were trashed by a Town Board member and the town attorney.
Two ill-conceived objections were offered: Lancaster might lose a project to competitors or be criticized for adding to the growth it already has seen.
This is just plain foolish. The taxpayers of Lancaster deserve a Planning Board that looks beyond its borders to consider what's happening across the street -- especially when the shared streets on its edges are major thoroughfares, and the growth in other towns impacts traffic in theirs.
Lancaster residents also deserve town officials who can see beyond the ends of their own noses, and realize Lancaster is not an isolated world. Last time we looked, there were no checkpoints at the borders.
The town attorney's contention that such meetings might be illegal stretches credulity. Lancaster would be yielding not a whit of control or jurisdiction through a sharing of information on planned development and future goals; planning boards advise town boards, which make the ultimate decisions. If the Lancaster Town Board considers the Planning Board unintelligent or incapable of acting in the best interests of its town, then it's indicting itself as well.
Proof of the advantages of shared discussions isn't far away. Amherst and Clarence report good results from joint meetings, and Cheektowaga is ready to weigh in. Lancaster is looking pretty silly in this landscape.
Lancaster has had one of the fastest growth rates in the county in recent years. That growth spills over its borders. As part of a larger community, it does owe some consideration to its neighbors. Its leaders also ought to realize that isolated planning is a lot like fixing up only one end of a lifeboat.
In an era when regionalism is becoming a byword and Erie County government is encouraging municipal projects that save taxpayer money and increase efficiency through pooled resources and projects, sharing planning information doesn't seem a lot to ask for. There might even be some good and mutually beneficial ideas out there.
Amherst and Clarence have spotted some. Apparently, the view is different from Lancaster.