While controversy swirls around the Villages At Coolfont project, and the Morgan County Planning Commission rushes to permit every possible development proposal before a vote on zoning in this county, one bit of information keeps being overlooked or purposely ignored.
A nationwide study done in 2005 showed that “because residential land uses do not cover their costs, they must be subsidized by other community land uses.” In fact, “it is a myth (that) residential development will lower property taxes by increasing the tax base.” This myth has been used over and over to promote ever-expanding development, but is patently and absurdly false.
For every dollar collected in taxes, a county only has to pay 27¢ in services for commercial or industrial land use and 36¢ for working or open lands. In stark contrast, residential development costs the taxpayer $1.16 for every dollar taken in from residential development. Developers collect their private profit at taxpayer expense. There is just no way around it. We pay while they play.
I have repeatedly tried to get this point across over the last five years, but forces for development in this county are just too strong. Only overwhelming public indignation can change our current and increasingly destructive course, but time is running out.
Along with the Coolfont and Snake Eyes Lane proposals, we now have requests for the Planning Commission to approve two developments (114 new houses) at Theodore Hovermale and New Hope Roads on January 26.
As usual, and as stated by Bob Marggraf at the recent public meeting on Freeman’s sewer plant at Coolfont, these projects will be automatically approved because “they meet the letter of the law.” They do not, however, meet the public’s need for a stable, clean and sustainable environment that isn’t also an increasing tax burden on its citizens.
John C. Webster
Editor’s note: Morgan County’s subdivision ordinance requires the planning commission to act on development applications within 90 days, or inform the developer of the shortcomings of his plan. As yet, there is no zoning plan proposed for the county and a plan must be ready by August 1 if it is to be on the ballot in November.