Let's take quality of life, environmental, smart growth and loss of farmland out of the equation. Important points, but here lets just talk dollars. All five township commissioners (BOC) ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, a good thing.
On May 3 the BOC will "take up" the Spring Creek Subdivision, aka the Jaindl development. Included is 4 million sq. ft. of warehouse space, 700 or more homes and some strip malls.
It's my take the Jaindl Development is an unfunded liability. A tipping point that will lead to major tax increases in the township. In simple terms this development creates new liabilities it will not produce the revenue to pay for. This is math and accounting. I have two questions I would like to see answered before the BOC votes on this.
Question 1 - When does this end? What is the game plan for sustainable growth? That is, development that pays for itself without the need to raise taxes or to constantly "expand the tax base" with costly greenfield development. Is there a plan?
Greenfield (farmland) development relies on constant new development to avoid a large tax increase. What happens when we have no more fields to develop? "Expanding the tax base by greenfield growth" simply isn't sustainable. The problem is that raw land development doesn't create enough tax revenue to pay for the long-term costs of providing bran new public services to the development on the publics dime. We are subsidizing this development, we should know what our return on investment (ROI) is.
Question 2 - Where is the long term accounting to show the taxpayers ROI? Has it been presented to the public to show this development will generate enough tax revenue to cover the public liability? Provide the community with a full accounting of obligations the taxpayer is assuming for building and then maintaining the infrastructure required by the MOU. (outlined below) How much will this cost us in the long run? This MUST be addressed before preliminary/final is granted.
Below is a overview of the potential costs to the taxpayer that need to be accounted for before the board takes action:
Cost of the specially waived traffic impact fees that Jaindl or any other developer will not have to pay until after the MOU agreement expires on Dec. 30, 2030.
Potential Long Term
Traffic & Streets
Includes: Road Widening, Intersection improvements, Traffic lights, Railroad crossings. Specifically widening of Rt. 100 to 4 lanes and multiple major intersection upgrades including Spring Creek, Alburtis Rd. and Mill Creek Rd.
Includes: Infrastructure ongoing maintenance, Future capital improvements including those needed if flooding worsens and downstream residents are flooded. Specifically the possible enlargement of Spring Creek Road bridge over the Little Lehigh to prevent worse flooding at Brookdale. We know the wooden bridge at church lane costs millions. Whose gonna pay for a major reconstruction of the spring creek bridge?
Includes: EMS, Fire, Police. 2nd Fire Station - Building costs, training, land acquisition. (Recent for comparison - Fire Protection - 2.5 Million for Willow Lane Fire House)
Includes: New school buildings, maybe even a new high school, because the 700 or more new households may tip the school district into finally needing another new school building somewhere.
Greenfield development NEVER balances out in terms of cost vs. benefit. It simply doesn't. We have to be shown the accounting where this works out and the taxpayer doesnt pay the price. I'm all for land owners doing what they want with their land within the parameters of zoning. But NOT when it relies on unfair subsidies from you and I. We shouldnt have to pay for new infrustructure that doesnt offer us a return on our investment as a community.