On Nov. 2, 2003, Columbia County News-Times publisher Barry Paschal wrote about the question of impact fees on new housing developments (Read the editorial). I am also referring to his column on Aug. 15 Columbia County's growth (Read the editorial), and wish every resident would read this and begin to realize what is happening to our county.
A family of four moving into a new home in our county has an almost immediate impact on the cost of services, such as police, fire, schools, etc., of, say, $5,000 in the first year. The property taxes on an average $180,000 home may be $1,500 per year.
Who pays the $3,500 difference? You and I -- the present property owners. A $2,000 impact fee on that new home would offset the large burden on us taxpayers to some extent, and added to the price of the new home would give the new owner some sense of pride that they were able to enter the best county and school system in the state of Georgia.
The builders and developers cry foul because they claim that people then would move to McDuffie and Lincoln counties. What a joke! Or would that be a relief valve -- have you looked at our traffic congestion already existing?
Here is the problem: The builder/developer lobby has been dominating the Columbia County Commission for the last 25 years, and so any commonsense suggestion of an impact fee or any other homeowner friendly idea within developments was pushed off the table. I witnessed that during my four years on the Planning and Zoning Commission in the early 1990s.
If someone implies this is a Democrat's idea, I'm sorry, but we are some of the first Republican voters in this county since the mid-1950s.
I wrote to our county commissioners in August 1994 that there is a problem in new developments for the children having nowhere to go to play with friends within walking distance since there is no set-aside green space of maybe one lot within a housing development. A "non-walkable" neighborhood creates obesity and a waste of energy, having to drive children to a distant park. This would take only a minor price adjustment on each home. Energy costs much more in the long run.
S.G. von Schweinitz
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