Letter to the Editor: What do we want our town to be?
Published 5:10 pm Friday, March 3, 2023
I attended the “PUD” meeting 2/13/23 at the Moton Museum building, and came away with these premises:
• If you build it, they will come.
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• If you don’t grow, you will die.
• We need many more rooftops to generate more revenue.
We should be careful what we wish for. The inclusion of a PUD amendment in the designated zoning areas would require many pages of rules and stipulations regarding everything from lot size and building height, to design specs, parking, and so on. That is all well and good, but is it really necessary, or are we just spinning our wheels for no other reason other than to invite large developers into our town?
What is the rush to encourage developments in the town? With more housing units comes increased need for added town-provided services such as police, fire personnel, public works, water and sewer and roads infrastructure, town employees, etc. With more housing comes more traffic, more crime, more need for expanded schools, more taxes to pay for all this. Although a PUD may provide the interior roads, park areas, etc. it would still create a strain on other town services.
Some say we need more apartments in the town. I drove around town and counted more than 10 apartment complexes, in addition to duplexes, lofts above businesses, private basement apartments, as well as in-progress apartment areas such as Longwood Village and the Pearson property beside Park View. When those projects are finished, they should provide around 150 more apartment units in the town. The current zoning and planning regulations have been sufficient in the past to enable the construction of those buildings on a case by case basis.
We should all take a moment to imagine what we want our town to be. Do we want to emulate Chesterfield with its out-of-control growth? Or do we want to maintain our small town atmosphere, and capitalize on our strengths as an historic college and tourist town? Are we willing to give up our small town identity in favor of a center of housing developments and stores? Whatever gains there are in increasing our population would be more than offset by the additional resources and funds needed to make it happen. And, as was noted at the meeting, it still would not be sufficient to attract big name food chains and department stores.