Tribune parrots developers’ propaganda
Sunday’s editorial by Rosemary Goudreau says we should “engage citizens in a discussion” about growth, but she doesn’t want those pesky citizens actually VOTING on their Comprehensive Plan, because that “could grind growth to a halt and destroy jobs.”
Never has the time been better to engage citizens in a discussion about how the region should grow, the attributes we want to preserve and the trade-offs we might accept.
Next year a state constitutional amendment called “Hometown Democracy” will go to voters requiring citizens to approve any change to a community’s “comp plan.” It’s a misguided proposal that could grind growth to a halt and destroy jobs.
“If [citizens] manage to slow down the construction of houses and apartments, they will slow the state’s economy…”
Contrary to these hysterical warnings of the economic doom that might come from letting citizens control development in our communities, unrestrained growth is NOT good for our economy. In fact, unrestrained growth is drowning us in debt. A new county study (the FIELD model) shows that unless we rein in development, in twenty years our county will be $3.3 billion in debt on roads alone, while schools and other infrastructure will increase that deficit. Each new house costs Hillsborough taxpayers several thousand dollars just in road costs not covered by impact fees. Our county is right now about to borrow $500 million against our future taxes just to make a small down-payment toward our $3.8 billion unfunded roadway need.
Furthermore, a healthy job market does NOT depend on unsustainable numbers of new houses being built every year. I’ve employed numerous plumbers & electricians, and bought new roofs & appliances, even though I’ve never bought a brand-new house. I’ve employed realtors too, each time I’ve bought another old house. And we all spend plenty of money on goods & services totally unrelated to the building of new subdivisions.
Our taxes subsidize development. We also pay for over-development in time wasted sitting in congested traffic. Our children pay sitting in overcrowded schools. We pay in water and other natural resources.
Yet the Tribune implies that we should be disregarded if we try to defend our communities (and our property values) against over-development that degrades our neighborhoods, lowers our quality of life, AND costs us dearly.
I’m all for “engaging citizens in a discussion,” but that would incorrectly imply that our elected officials would actually listen. Simply put, if our leaders consistently fail to vote the way we wish they would, then we need to take the reins ourselves and vote on these matters directly.