By preserving open space we reduce costs for infrastructure and services, thereby reducing the need for tax increases. Farmland and open space generate no traffic, create no crime, needs little fire protection and places no new students into our school system.
The appropriate alternative to rezoning our last large contiguous swaths of agriculture land is concentrating growth where infrastructure already exists. The best examples are empty commercial locations along Rt. 222. Until these commercial areas where taxpayers have already made costly infrastructure investments (The bypass) are built out to capacity there is absolutely no community serving reasoning to rezone parcels along Rt. 100. As a community we have no obligation to up-zone this corridor. Right now, agriculture protection is the best fit for Rt. 100 while commercial development makes sense along Rt. 222. That would be smart growth.
Many who want to preserve farmland are motivated by a belief that it will enhance quality of life. While this is true, often forgotten and equally important are the financial issues. Farmland is a positive contributor to the tax-base. What replaces it such as strip commercial often costs taxpayers more when liabilities to provide new infrastructure and increased services outweigh increased revenue. Studies consistently show farmland costs around $0.25 in services for every $1.00 it generates in taxes. The current zoning of the Rt. 100 corridor is by far and away the best land use for keeping taxes low.
Some Lower Macungie Commissioners want to rezone large swaths of agriculture land along Rt. 100 for more strip commercial development. Not only will this hurt quality of life but I cannot think of a quicker way to guarantee higher municipal taxes over the long term.
This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.