Impact Fee vote was right
To the Editor:
It is heartening to see the leadership of this community continuing in the footsteps of the previous stewards who through hard work and foresight have over the decades made Madison the crown jewel of the Georgia Piedmont. I commend City Council members Connie Booth, Whitey Hunt and Michael Naples for approving the Impact Fees Ordinance recommended to them by the Ross consulting firm and the State of Georgia. Again Madison takes the lead in protecting and enhancing its built environment. Let’s hope Morgan County will follow.
Just like several weeks ago when the local developer Everett Royal requested two lots just off North Main Street be spot zoned from R1 to R2, these three city council members, Booth, Hunt and Naples stood down the pressure of some prominent people in order to protect the wellbeing of the community. The rezoning request (and the alternative variances) would have allowed the construction of two additional houses squeezed in on either side of the historic home, making the infill appear cramped and thereby diminishing the viewscape of Madison – and hence its attractiveness – as one enters the downtown.
Defending the existing zoning laws just like adopting the Impact Fees Ordinance promotes the general welfare of Madison by leveling the playing field. Knowing what the zoning is when one buys land enables a property owner to know the limitations placed on the land while also protecting the rights of nearby landowners. Establishing fees that must be paid when development occurs creates a process whereby more of the actual cost of development is carried by those who profit from the venture rather than the citizens left holding the bag. For too long property holders have watched as the value of their investment has diminished because of the spot zoning of nearby land. For too long property holders have seen their property taxes go up to cover the hidden costs of taxpayer-subsidized development in new schools, additional fire and police equipment, public services, road repair, you name it.
Developer David Land has made it clear in these pages twice now that he disagrees with the Impact Fees Ordinance written by Ross+Associates. Dire predictions made by him and Everett Royal are designed to scare the populace into opposing this effort to spread out the costs of development. Royal’s suggestion that “there’s no such thing as standing still – you have to grow, or go backward,” with the implication that Madison has become “anti-development, anti-growth, and anti-jobs” is just plain silly. Madison is not about to dry up and disappear.
From the west the tsunami of Atlanta approaches. Nothing is going to stop it, as we all know. For several years city leaders have worked hard to prepare for the rising tide of population seeping across the Morgan County border before it becomes a flood. The father and son team of Bill and Bill Jr. Ross not only benefits from prior experiences writing Impact Fees Ordinances for north Atlanta communities already subsumed by metropolis such as Roswell, Alpharetta and Kennesaw, but also from Bill Sr. living in Madison, a community he knows well and does not want to see inundated with costly-to-taxpayers development.
As a homeowner in the city, I want to see my private property protected with strong zoning and my taxes offset by Impact Fees that force developers to pay their fair share of the not-so-hidden costs of growth. Let’s have the expert urban planners write the laws for the citizens rather than the developers who have to follow them.
So thank you for your stewardship Connie Booth, Whitey Hunt and Michael Naples. Your difficult decisions continue to advance Madison and protect it as an attraction for the thousands who attended the Tour of Homes, Madisonfest, Equifest, Bike Ride Across Georgia, etc. as well as for those of us privileged enough to get to live here year round.
Glenn T. Eskew