Howard County Blog

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

School Site Discussion Continued

HayDuke writes that the main question is:

If we force the landowners to set aside a piece of land for a school, what other amenity will we be sacrificing? I think we have to assume that there is a limit to the amount of "proffers" we can expect from General Growth and that this limit is related to what we give them.

Well, let me start off saying that I am in favor of General Growth making a massive profit. That said I do not think that profit should come at the expense of the community. I think that that profit should come as a result of being a good partner with the community. The community through our elected officials will determine whether General Growth makes a profit and how fast by determining how much additional residential units to grant General Growth. We are in the drivers seat. No one I know is opposed to General Growth making a huge profit, just that the tax payer shouldn't have to foot the bill for those profits. When we talk about the county or CA paying we are talking about tax or lien dollars.

There are certain inherent costs that come with new residential development such as schools, transit systems, and parking. These are costs the developer bares in exchange for the ability to make their huge profits. If it were any other way it would mean that the tax payers would have to pay and why should tax payers have to pay to give someone else a profit? New residential units will mean we will need more classroom space (unless we are willing to allow developers to push on to us overcrowded schools and the reduction of quality of the Howard County Public School System, which is something I think neither the developer nor the community wants) and thus to say that it is an “either schools or other amenities” argument is patently false. The cost is there and it has to be borne. The question is will our elected officials stand up for the interests of the tax payers and insist that these costs are not pushed onto the community so that the developer can reap a bigger profit. Any elected official worthy of holding public office will step up to this challenge and hit a homerun. It is a no brainer for them. No amount of campaign contributions can make up for a politician pushing these costs onto the tax payer, especially with a project to the scale of the downtown Columbia redevelopment. A politician who transferred their voters’ tax dollars into profits for developers would kill their political future.

We are not going to get into playing one community need off another.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is cross-posted at HayDuke

There is one thing Evan and so many others seem to forget. They hold up the original work the Rouse COmpany did as the model but the Rouse Company paid exactly nothing for ammenities. They of corse, formed the Columbia Association, which financed every single ammenity we have on the promise of payment from the people of Columbia. In fact, that is the very reason CA has such an enormous debt. The developer sold all of the houses or at least the units to developers with all the promises of ammenities but didn't finance any of it. The Columbia Association will make millions as well with increase assessment revenue - why shouldn't they bare much of the amenity building "brunt". It is after all - why they were created in the first place.

I agree with his assessment that the developer needs to come forward with some quid pro quo and land is probably the best way to do that, but Hayduke is exactly right, it is unreasonable to go to the that trough for EVERYTHING we need. That might work in la-la land where wishing makes it so, but that just doesn't hold water here.

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