Sean Northup: Planning for Change

A recent profile of Midtown resident Sean Northup, deputy director of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), shares his thoughts on the planning process. Northrup is serving a key role in the creation of Transit-Oriented Development guidelines for the region to take advantage of the major investment in bus rapid transit (BRT). This involved hiring a consultant to conduct a Transit Impact Study to gather data along the Red Line BRT corridor prior to the Red Line’s launch.
The study will create an inventory of land use around each station area as well as jobs, property sales, racial/ethnic diversity, and walkability. The team will revisit the corridor two years later to document changes and analyze the results.

In addition to his professional duties at the 8-c0unty regional planning agency, Northrup served on the Envision Broad Ripple volunteer steering committee that worked with the City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development staff on the Village’s forward-looking plan [PDF] that was adopted in 2012.

From the profile:

Most underappreciated aspect of planning?
Planning itself is underappreciated, but I guess the most underappreciated aspect is how much it has to be the art of the possible. Most planners go to school for four or six years to study cities, then read a mountain of literature on best practices every day of their careers. Then they take an oath to support the public good, and make recommendations based on that mountain of context. Then we take all of that knowledge, and we start whittling away at it with remonstrators, citizen boards and elected officials who often have competing interests and vastly different foundations for forming their opinions. To get a good plan written, approved, and implemented is a monumental task – negotiating all this is both an underappreciated skill, and an explanation of why so many plans either don’t get built or totally underwhelm.

Read more at the MPO website.