Recent discussions suggest there is likely to be high political interest in the imposition of development impact fees. I wish to address this matter from only the perspective of my three-plus-year volunteer position as participant and coordinator of state-sanctioned Adopt-a-Stream activities having to do with the quality of our stream water.
Most of our bacterial studies have been on streams that run through residential developments. We have found that, both summer and winter, levels exceeding state criteria have occurred on two of the streams. Problems are being attributed principally to leaking septic systems, whether currently functional or not; incorrectly-connected or leaking sanitary sewer hookups; and careless disposal of pet animal wastes.
In the recent letter by Tom Werner, we learned that in a South Carolina study at least $1,412 is being "pumped" by each residence into the economy via "construction jobs, taxes, and residents' spending" more than local government spends to maintain same. The question is, "Is local government doing enough to provide and preserve amenities?" We know how a family can spend without setting aside funds for later necessary expenses (such as new roof). We know how a government can fail to maintain its roads. We need to ask, then, whether enough is being done to correct conditions that have led to the high levels of bacteria in our streams. We need to ask whether local government is prepared to prevent these conditions in future developments.
Let us assume that county personnel now recognize these pollution problems and want to correct them. Will they need additional personnel and equipment? The state Environmental Protection Division recommends that a helicopter be used to detect sewer leaks through thermal imaging at night. It is now also putting more demands on county personnel. One official says the county cannot afford to do that. Well, can it not afford to? If current resources are used for existing problems, not to mention new demands by EPD, can we then need new funds for preventive measures in new developments?
Unless developers and builders take precautionary measures, local government action will be necessary. ... It is up to the builders and new homeowners then to take those precautionary measures. Otherwise, impact fees (at least for this area of interest) will be necessary, because taxes are not sufficient now. We have heard that there are $100 million worth of needs, even not considering what has been discussed here. ... Without extra income, county personnel will need to work harder and for longer hours.
The builders have their initiatives and charges. Residents have their educated, voluntary initiatives and payments, too. Take your pick!
John Graham, Evans
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