(Submitted as LTE to LMT Patch and an abbreviated version to EPP)
Preserving open space with a smart growth plan reduces costs for infrastructure and services, therefore over the long term 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 agricultural land is concentrating growth where infrastructure investments have already been made. The best examples are empty infill locations along Rt. 222. This is an area where taxpayers have already made costly infrastructure investments. Until then 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. Continued agriculture protection as a buffer between residential areas and warehouses is the best fit for Rt. 100. That would be smart growth.
Many who want to preserve farmland are motivated by a belief that it enhances quality of life. This is true. Often overlooked however and equally important are the financial benefits. Not only is Farmland a form of industrial infrastructure, it is a positive net contributor to the tax-base. What too often replaces it such as strip commercial and warehouses cost taxpayers over the long run. This happens when new liabilities to provide additional 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 including Jim Lancsek have expressed interest in rezoning 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.
Ron Beitler- Candidate for LMT Commissioner