Friday, June 26, 2009
Milford's Smart Growth Means Restricting Negative Income Properties
Milford Zoning and Planning has the duty of assigning the land use and improvements made to our community by builders and developers. Milford is a town rich with many resources including open space, small family farms and a growing population.
Every year when our city presents its budget it is forced to contend with the hardships of the promises it has made to its city employees, the cost associated with inflation and the economic situation of the local taxpayers who have to pay for it all.
Thankfully our city does receive some help from the outside world. Our city gets assistance with grants from the state of Connecticut (Devon Revitalization Project, the courthouse, education dollars, etc..) however this money always falls short and tempers flare between property owners and taxpayers.
Last year it was standing room only at city hall, the public in Milford heard that the budget was so severely strained that up to 180 teachers would be layed off and a taxpayer revolt was brewing between those who paid taxes and those who expected quality education from the city. Fortunately no teachers were fired, this is because other cuts were made instead.
The notion of Smart Growth benefiting a community, will only work if the city and Zoning and Planning engage in a policy that is more scientific in its approach of land use management.
This formula should consider how many Negative Income Properties (NIP's) our community can reasonably sustain relative to its Income Producing Properties (IPP's) The difference between the two are simply stated as one type of property like a commercial building or elderly housing will produce more income that the demands of those residents. The other type (NIP's) are those properties like Family Occupied Dwellings with multiple kids in the school system. Those properties consume more revenue than is procured in taxes.
Sustainability of the tax base and Milford's future means driving up the cost of large Family dwellings through the basic principles of artificial scarcity, or the policy of making their proliferation increasingly difficult. Eventually the basic principles of supply and demand will drive up the cost of (NIP's) This will result in lower mill rates, more property tax revenue, and higher resale values for those homeowners who will eventually sell their properties.
The flip side of zoning and planning should be to encourage and ease land use pertaining to commercial development, and the designation of additional senior occupied developments (like Baldwin Station), while encouraging low cost single occupant housing.
Smart Growth is more than just recycling, energy reduction, art, healthy living and all those attributes of its proponents. Smart growth is about building affordable communities that are energy efficient, cost effective and socially balanced. These policies can only be implemented by Zoning and Planning who must pay careful attention to the implications of the permits in which they issue to our town developers.
At all cost, and in my opinion, I believe it is critical to prohibit the development of farms in lieu of "McMansions" and encourage the development of business, senior, and single occupancy apartments if Milford is to resolve its revenue issues in the coming years.