Often as residential and commercial developments have occurred across our country, land investors and developers have bought rural land on speculation. They rezone their properties, then build homes, apartments, stores and office buildings.
Investors often reap tremendous profits by such re-zonings and the subsequent developments that follow. No doubt, there’s much hard work, luck, and funds invested for developers to earn their rewards. But many times taxpayers have been left to pay for the capital cost burdens this growth brings: new roads and improvements, more classrooms, school buses, police cruisers, recreational facilities and parks, fire houses and trucks.
Zion Crossroads, thanks to its water and sewer infrastructure, a catalyst for development, is now experiencing a massive spike in growth. The county currently is considering three large-scale development proposals that would build approximately 1,200 residential units at Zion.
Much planning has gone into each proposal. But one aspect has been largely ignored in all three applications: the costs to the county for capital improvements. Yes, the costs for overlooked, forgotten, or ignored new roads/road improvements, classrooms, buses, police cruisers, ladder fire trucks that will be needed if these proposals are approved. And these costs are not insignificant.
Taxpayers must insist now before the rezoning applications are considered for approval that county officials do their job. They must hold developers accountable for their fair share of these largely yet undetermined costs. This accountability must be codified in the county’s written approval of large-scale growth proposals to define clearly and bind legally all stakeholders to their financial responsibilities.
Otherwise, several years later, while sitting in traffic jams with multiple cycle traffic light delays while our children attend overcrowded schools and our law enforcement officers or fire and rescue personnel can’t reach us in time to prevent a tragedy, we Louisa citizens will wonder: How did this happen? Who will pay to fix it?
If the developers refuse to help shoulder the burden their growth will bring, perhaps they should be told their proposals are too costly for Louisa. What happens at Zion will impact all of Louisa. We taxpayers and voters will be watching.
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the August 1st edition of the Central Virginian, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
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