Editorial: Sharing the cost of development

February 21, 2014 

As Garner residents await the ultimate planning and construction of the southern leg of Interstate 540, town leaders are starting to think about the cost of development.

A major new roadway like I-540 will undoubtedly bring new commerce and new residential development for people who want to get places quickly.

At the town council’s annual planning retreat last week, Mayor Ronnie Williams pointed out that, with the need to pay off bonds approved last year, the town’s resources will be limited when it comes to developing infrascture like water and sewer lines to serve the new land that will be opened to development almost overnight.

Town leaders, as Williams said, should measure the cost against the opportunity for growth in tax revenue for the town. But town leaders should also consider the option of leaving most of that cost for the people who stand to gain the most – those property owners, businesses and developers who stand to profit for years to come from the prime locations they occupy.

In that scenario, the town gains without having to invest unreasonably to support private investment.

We are pleased that the town is starting now to address questions like these. It would be foolhardy to wait until a request is on the table to decide what kind of policies the town wants to enact.

But as council members work their way through the answers to these questions, they should remember that it is unwise to spend too much public money – supplied by every property owner – to benefit just a few.

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