Letters to the Editor

Bad precedent

February 27, 2008


To the editor:

Last Tuesday, Feb. 19, a very important and potentially far-reaching question came before the City Commission. This should be of great concern to every citizen in Lawrence and Douglas County. A developer wants to shoehorn 42 new houses into the land west of Iowa Street and immediately south of Oxford Road. He is required by the new development code standards to devote at least 20 percent of his land to open ground uses. He asked the city to use adjacent public lands (Quarry Park) for his private development to help satisfy that requirement. Commissioners are now pondering this question, and it is expected to be considered by the Planning Commission in their March meeting.

If the commissions decide in this one instance that a private developer can use public land, they will have set a dangerous precedent. In fairness, every development afterward will also be able to demand adjacent public land for their open space requirement. We think the public should let commissioners know that we do not approve of any land giveaways.

Bill Kalinich, Susan Brosseau,


SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 2 months ago

I'll be letting commissioners know the "open ground use" requirement is foolish and potentially very wasteful. Thank you to the letter writers for bringing this issue to my attention.

Ragingbear 10 years, 2 months ago

STRS doesn't seem to understand how drainage works.

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 2 months ago

If it were about drainage, it would be legitimate. However, it's about "open spaces," "green spaces" and other nonsensical concepts pushed by the radical environmentalists.

The "open ground use" crowd is the same one stonewalling the completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway through the Baker/Haskell/Haskell/Baker swamp.

moo 10 years, 2 months ago

Good lord, STRS, this isn't about "radical environmentalism" think of it as supporting your big "family values" cause. This is about kids having backyards to play in. Do you really want children growing up in houses with no yards, no parks, no trees, no grass, no pools? What kind of a childhood is that? You must want them sitting in the basement playing videogames. Every housing development should be forced to devote land to yards, parks and neighborhood pools. I would say that they should do it on their own, but they won't. They think like you and want to fill up every last inch of space in this city with a building they can make money off of. Forget about creating beautiful spaces or areas for people to enjoy the outdoors. Those are "wasted space."

jafs 10 years, 2 months ago

I guess STRS wouldn't mind if all of the natural spaces were filled up with developments.

Let's hope he/she is not in the majority on the city commission.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 2 months ago

This developer does like to cut corners. The neighborhood ought to get a copy of the approved site plans.

Impact fees please!

Donovan Scruggs, Ocean Springs director of community development and planning, said the city's current budget. crunch can be tied directly to infrastructure expenses needed to serve new housing developments.

"If residential growth paid for itself and was financially positive, we would not be in a budget crunch," Scruggs said. "But with increased numbers of houses you have increased demand on services, and historically the funding of revenues generated by single-family housing does not pay for the services, they require from a municipality."

Scruggs said there have been two studies done on impact fees. One 100-page study was on services for police and fire protection, administration and parks. A second study was done on infrastructure related impacts on roads, water and water.

The current proposal calls for the fees to be collected separately.

"We want. to make sure we tie the fees as closely as possible to when the demand is being generated," Scruggs said. "Water and sewer fees would be collected when the subdivision is constructed. Services more related to occupancy and homes being constructed would be collected later. For example, no one will have a need for a park until there are kids in that neighborhood."

While developers pay for onsite water, sewer and road infrastructure, Scruggs said it is costly to pay for offsite upgrades needed, such as enlarging lift stations and raising water towers.

"Now if we have to upgrade a lift station, it is paid for by the general fund revenue paid by each taxpayer in the city," Scruggs said. "Someone on the west side of town would have to pay for subsidizing the growth in demand caused by the development in the east part of town."

The eastern part of town is where the greatest residential growth is being seen. Scruggs said there has been so much growth in recent years that the city has to elevate its water towers to keep pressure at adequate levels. "That was a direct result caused by the growth," he said.

Scruggs said that impact fees are legal if they are done properly.

"Madison's impact fee program had problems," Scruggs said. "Ours will not have those problems. It can be done right."

Ocean Springs had 120 homes constructed in 2000, 90 in 2001 and is on track to have 120 homes constructed in 2002. If impact fees had been collected on the 310 homes built in three years, the city would have extra revenues of about $2.1 million.

In order for the city to have orderly growth, developers need to be responsible for a certain amount of the infrastructure. Most builders understand impact fees are for a purpose that improves their development."

SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 2 months ago

"Do you really want children growing up in houses with no yards, no parks, no trees, no grass, no pools?" - moo

That's not for me to decide and it's certainly none of the government's business to decide.

Again, this issue is not about drainage but about a political philosophy worth fighting.

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