One gutsy letter-writer in the Gazette this week has probably been kicked out of the Homeowner's Association for suggesting should be more like Bethesda. He's actually got quite a point, despite the fact that development plans for the former Anchor Inn site in Wheaton have stalled even after the County's easing of redevelopment restrictions in the business district. Says the developer:
"Wheaton has missed the train through three development cycles, and it appears it could be left behind again."
That's right. The smoking ban killed the Anchor Inn, and now Wheaton's "friendliness" towards small businesses, many of whom were stifled by the development restrictions, will prevent anything from rising in its place, leaving a vacant lot at an important intersection.
Do you want to prevent people from getting stabbed in Wheaton? Well, the answer wasn't to lure all the high-end retailers and put them inside a shopping mall, leaving the surrounding streets dead, and it's certainly not to prevent business from growing outside of the mall, making it even worse.
There is no reason why we can't accomodate small businesses in a denser Wheaton. Has anyone considered that rents could go down if there was a glut of retail space downtown? I mean, I like Barry's Magic Shop too, but I'd take safe streets over card games any day.