This is in response to the guest column from Bill Garrison, president of Clay County Economic Development Corp. that ran March 2.
I would state at the outset that I have met Mr. Garrison several times and think he is one of the nicest people in Clay County. That being said, I must ask him in the most respectful way possible, “Are you out of your mind?”
Mr. Garrison’s column extols the questionable “virtues” of unbridled development and rapid increases in taxation. I have been a long-term attendee at the Board of County Commissioners and believe we have a mutual respect while disagreeing on many subjects.
I have always said I would never question their integrity but I will, justifiably, question their judgment. In this case, the slavish pandering to developers who are lowering the quality of life in our county with each new huge housing development.
Undoubtedly, they are drawn to Clay with our lax concern about out of control population growth coupled with a lower tax rate and a complete disdain for zoning laws on the books. In the nine years, I’ve been attending commission meetings, no developer asking for a change in zoning to accommodate their desires (whether endorsed by the Planning Commission or not) have ever been denied those zoning changes.
Developers are tearing down what little natural resources we have left that may attract tourists to our county and replacing them with communities that continue to put a heavy burden on our roads and schools.
What makes these problems so difficult to accept is the fact that we have an ordinance requiring impact fees. A moratorium was immediately placed on the collection of these fees and has been renewed year after year consistently by each successive board. There is nothing admirable in unbridled growth. Look at Oakleaf as one example. So many unnecessary homes are being crammed into that area that in the very near future the children in these homes will need to be bused elsewhere.
Now Mr. Garrison is pushing for higher taxes necessary to accommodate growth that I don’t believe the vast majority of us want or need. On one hand, we are constrained from collecting impact fees (which, of course, are too low to really cover what needs to be done) and on the other we are told we absolutely must raise gas taxes, transportation impact fees (whatever they are) increases in the ad valorem taxes, and who knows what else?
What I believe we need is a moratorium on housing developments. It’s not hard to do. To date more population has not brought us desired business commerce with higher paying jobs. All we seem to get are convenience stores attached to gas stations. I have spoken with various commissioners and asked why they rubber stamp every housing development and still have not received a coherent argument for them.
Recently the commissioners showed they had no hesitation in imposing a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries. Some of the pretend criteria they reference to back their move was “we need sufficient time to research, study, and analyze the potential impact and compatibility of such facilities upon adjacent land uses and surrounding areas.”
My question is why aren’t they ever doing that for these huge housing developments? Look at the horrendous traffic problems we are already enduring. And take a quick peek down the road. Our aquifer is extremely low. Do we really want to strain it? More people will lead to rationing water and much higher prices. How’s that for Quality of Life?