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Discussion Starter #1
Something non-political here, just wondering people's views on land development and it's impacts on existing communities.

I heard this morning that an approval was given for one of our local farms to be turned into a housing development. Nothing new really, but in my neighborhood alone one farm was turned into McMansion village and the forest area to the right of my house is now being turned into condo city. I live about two hours north of NYC and about an hour from the Metro North station. Meaning, since 9/11 our area has been selling out to land developers who have built nothing but huge gawdy houses. The majority of the people buying these work in NYC and commute everyday. So what are the impacts, both positive and negative? It's hard to really think of any positives unfortunately, but on the negative side:

-Huge houses and developments drive up resale value of existing homes and land. While this is attractive for existing residents with no or low mortgages, the average area resident cannot afford a house here anymore. Well, they can because banks and lending institutions are telling the average wage earner they are approved for some astronomical adjustable mortgage that has attractive terms for the moment. But what about in a few years when they adjust the percentage rate or taxes go even higher? The signs of the housing boom starting to slide slowly south are starting to show up in the newspaper. More and more foreclosure notices are being printed in the paper.

-Infrastructure. More and more housing developments means more/better infrastructure. This has been rural land with older infrastructure planned accordingly. The roads were not meant for the massive increase in traffic, the water/sewer lines in the cities/towns cannot handle the added strain and thus are now breaking constantly. The schools are crowded like never before with kids now being put in temporary trailers for classrooms. So who pays for all the improvements to the infrastructure?

Taxes- These massive houses, while driving up real estate values, also drive up assessments to unreal amounts. Existing residents cannot afford these assessments and really, why should senior citizens who have no kids have to suffer in the form of unaffordable taxes (making them stretch budgets even further) for bigger schools and more buses?

The whole thing scares me and makes me sad at the same time. This is where I was born and bred and planned to make my future. But it's getting to the point where open land, farms, and forests are quickly disappearing. Replaced by ugly tract housing condos and mansions, box stores and crappy paying retail. But it's a catch 22. Change is good and always welcome in my book. But at what cost? I can't blame land owners and all of the local farmers for selling out, the profit these guys are making is unreal.

So what are your thoughts on land developement, it's effects and how communities can grow the smart way?
 

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Lisa Simpson
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We always buy in fully built-out areas. As much as I would like to live on 40 acres one day, I am aware that I could be in your shoes quickly. I can't even begin to imagine commuting like that. Absolutely nutters. And anyone with certain ownership senority should be grandfathered. It is insane to tax people out of their homes like that.

I think that the most effective thing I have seen is multiple acre zoning as used in southeastern PA. There are townships with 10 acre zoning, meaning parcels cannot be subdivided below 10 acres.
 

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If you really want the s*** scared out of you read up on companies like Toll Brothers. They claim that McMansion builders like themselves hold a third of the housing market share and will command TWO-THIRDS in 10-20 years. There is no stopping a corporation hell bent on land acquisitions and evil neo-rich subdivision monstrosities that have proven to be non-sustainable (strain infrastructure beyond maintainable cost, eventually loose value as they fall apart, destroy habitat).

My big complaint around here is that I live in the city and pay city taxes while the burbinites don't pay half... They come into town everyday and expect us to pay for their lifestyle (parking spots, infrastructure, services, etc.) Hmmm... want my neighborhood to accommodate you while you live in a gated community. They suck the life out of cities yet they don't want the bill!
 

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upshot said:
If you really want the s*** scared out of you read up on companies like Toll Brothers. They claim that McMansion builders like themselves hold a third of the housing market share and will command TWO-THIRDS in 10-20 years. There is no stopping a corporation hell bent on land acquisitions and evil neo-rich subdivision monstrosities that have proven to be non-sustainable (strain infrastructure beyond maintainable cost, eventually loose value as they fall apart, destroy habitat).

My big complaint around here is that I live in the city and pay city taxes while the burbinites don't pay half... They come into town everyday and expect us to pay for their lifestyle (parking spots, infrastructure, services, etc.) Hmmm... want my neighborhood to accommodate you while you live in a gated community. They suck the life out of cities yet they don't want the bill!
tell us how you *really* feel... :lol:
 

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sounds like here in Northern VA. It's a let's build houses and then worry about the roads to get to them later.

After 32 years here, i'm so glad I only have a few more weeks of living in this area.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Alex,

That's a good idea about the 10 acre thing. I just wish our local policiticians would open their eyes to something like that. It's funny, we are right on the Hudson River. My county, Ulster, is kind of like a joke to the other side of the river, Dutchess County. We are being over run with development in the form of housing and retail, while many of the small towns in Dutchess County have put a moratorium on big parcel land development and really work hard to preserve their open land. So many people from the other side of the river are like "why would I want to live in Ulster? I have 10 acres of land, decent taxes and uncrowded schools. I'll just go over to the other side to eat and shop."

One of the people here in my office was on the town board and I said to her "so with a new Hampton Inn and Marriott going in, along with Arby's, a second Dunkin Donuts and another car wash, how the hell will the roads support that kind of traffic?" Her response was "well, we will wait and see" in a laughing matter. I honestly think that the politicians really don't give a poop about anything other than getting these big huge tax payments up front. Get the big payout now, worry about infrastructure and impacts later. :crazy: The main thoroughfare through Kingston/Town of Ulster is two lanes in each direction. Everyday traffic is now what it used to be 10 years ago on Black Friday, traffic accidents have skyrocketed and half the time I sit in traffic for 20 minutes just to go grocery shopping.

Here's a funny one, being that our high school is so overcrowded now, the school board is pushing the idea of a new high school. Ok, it's needed I guess. So they pay a $80k non-refundable retainer for this big plot of land, in a FLOOD zone that was recently wiped out last April in a massive flood. Oh yea, the person who owns the land right now is also the brother in law of someone on the school board. Nice. :thumbdown So now that residents have shot down the idea of building a school in a major flood zone (rightfully so), taxpayers are out $80k!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Another problem with all this development in our area is that the divide between upper and lower class is becoming bigger and bigger. Our city just built two new apartment complexes for low income families. One of my friends, who works full time and is a single father, applied to one of them and was told that because he makes $30k a year, he makes too much. Sorry, but that's a joke. He could be making more money yes, but he's a single father who gives his son every second of his free time. So they still live in a rundown area in a crap apartment.

So now with our mayor pushing for more housing complexes for the low income and the developers putting up these huge houses, where does the middle class fall? Starter houses or fixer uppers are now in the $150-175k price range. There's no way that a single person earning $35-$40k can afford this and the increasing taxes. City taxes just went up 30% and county taxes are going up 49%.

Scarey situation.
 

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Never forgets
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If you don't build new houses or apartments anywhere, you will still drive up the resale value of homes, since people still need a place to live and the population of almost every city is increasing. I personally think the coming real estate bubble will help reduces the insane valuations of homes.
 

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upshot said:
My big complaint around here is that I live in the city and pay city taxes while the burbinites don't pay half... They come into town everyday and expect us to pay for their lifestyle (parking spots, infrastructure, services, etc.) Hmmm... want my neighborhood to accommodate you while you live in a gated community. They suck the life out of cities yet they don't want the bill!
I now pay $2/week user fee to come to work. Since I live in a smaller adjacent town, and drive in to work at the Capitol, I get the privilege of paying a user fee because I am using the streets, police and fire protection the city provides. Ignore the fact that I am a state employee and that the state pays to maintain all of the streets adjacent to the Capitol, and that I am putting plenty of money into the local businesses (eating, shopping) so they can pay higher B&O taxes to the city.

If it was a _tax_ I could declare it on my income taxes.

As for development, we have the same issue in the eastern panhandle of WV near DC. There are folks willing to commute two hours each way to live in "the country" and work in "the city," ignoring that once you have a bunch of houses right next to each other, it's not "the country" anymore. Not to mention they are buying up (and in some cases, squeezing out) farms that have been there for 150 years. There are signs posted all over the county to remind folks to apply every year for their farm exemption, to try and keep those people solvent.
 

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That's interesting Harvey... Didn't know that cities were doing that. Definately not going to happen in Michigan!
 

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Development and growth sucks, be we need it.

There are some new trends towards better ways of developing land. Look up 'Low Impact Development'. It is a holistic approach to maintaining the natural hydrologic balance when converting forests and fields to pavement. Catching on slowly.

Fully agree that sprawl encourages wasteful infrastructure.

Also, be concerned that government has the power to take your home eminent domain for the purpose of economic development. An urban neighborhood may be worth more in taxes and jobs as a shopping center or resort complex.
 

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Take a look at Florida. My previous boss bought a house that has increased in value 50% in one year. In her county 400 homes are being sold a month. The whole town she lives in is owned by the developer. It's not just a gated community but a whole town!!!! Very scary.:puke:
 

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I deal with this type of subject everyday, as its my day job. I'm a town planner and it sounds to me like the rules in the US are quite relaxed towards development compared to the UK, where I live.

However, we nearly went down that road in the 1980's when the then Thatcher Government lifted planning restrictions to just about anywhere that wasn't protected by Green Belt. Housing sprawl, out of town everything. Europe's biggest mall - Gateshead's Metro Centre is not far from me, but so is a ghetto that used to be known as Gateshead Town Centre (seen the original Get Carter anyone, the car park scene was shot here!)

Things are much tighter now. Development has to be assessed against sequential testing. Developers must make an effort to build on brownfield sites, which should be as close as possible to jobs, local services and facilities so that people don't have to travel everywhere for everything. I know that sort of policy sounds a bit green but in reality, if people don;t have to travel as much, there would be less traffic and a better chance of getting about when you do actually travel.

Anyway - forgive me, but here's where I plug some of the work that I have done. I'm currently working with a team to produce a Local Development Framework. Please have a look at this, as it will show how we in the UK approach land development. It also includes a quite controversial plan to remove 205ha from the Green Belt to accommodate a new employment site.

Have a look, it may help out this debate.

This is the page for the Core Strategy - the key strategic policies for development in South Tyneside for the next 15 years:

http://www.southtyneside.info/environment/planning/strategic/ldf/corestrategy.asp


This is the page for the Tyne Wear Regional Employment Site:

http://www.southtyneside.info/environment/planning/strategic/ldf/twes.asp
 

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:thumbup: to a national Green Belt policy. USA cities have subdivision belts.
I read with interest the Environmental Constraints Study for the Startigic Employment Center. Similar to an Enviromental Assessment we prepare on this side of the pond.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Chilledgibbo said:
I deal with this type of subject everyday, as its my day job. I'm a town planner and it sounds to me like the rules in the US are quite relaxed towards development compared to the UK, where I live.

However, we nearly went down that road in the 1980's when the then Thatcher Government lifted planning restrictions to just about anywhere that wasn't protected by Green Belt. Housing sprawl, out of town everything. Europe's biggest mall - Gateshead's Metro Centre is not far from me, but so is a ghetto that used to be known as Gateshead Town Centre (seen the original Get Carter anyone, the car park scene was shot here!)

Things are much tighter now. Development has to be assessed against sequential testing. Developers must make an effort to build on brownfield sites, which should be as close as possible to jobs, local services and facilities so that people don't have to travel everywhere for everything. I know that sort of policy sounds a bit green but in reality, if people don;t have to travel as much, there would be less traffic and a better chance of getting about when you do actually travel.

Anyway - forgive me, but here's where I plug some of the work that I have done. I'm currently working with a team to produce a Local Development Framework. Please have a look at this, as it will show how we in the UK approach land development. It also includes a quite controversial plan to remove 205ha from the Green Belt to accommodate a new employment site.

Have a look, it may help out this debate.

This is the page for the Core Strategy - the key strategic policies for development in South Tyneside for the next 15 years:

http://www.southtyneside.info/environment/planning/strategic/ldf/corestrategy.asp


This is the page for the Tyne Wear Regional Employment Site:

http://www.southtyneside.info/environment/planning/strategic/ldf/twes.asp

There are ghettos in the UK? I bet the hoodrats in UK's ghetto even sound proper speaking the queen's english.

"Well lad, that's bloody crass..." UK edition
"Yo, dat is sum f'd up sh*t yo" US edition :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Sad, another developer coming to our small city. The area that they are proposing this was always industrial waterfront. They turned half of into touristy (is that a word?) boutiques that no locals can afford to shop in, high priced restaurants, art galleries, etc. There is already a maritime and trolley museum down there. The funny thing is, the city's sewage treatment plant is right in the middle of all this.

This developer (from NYC, of course) wants to turn Island Dock into either a low income housing project or condo's. Island Dock was a thin strip of island in the Hudson River that at one time in the roaring 20's had live bands, outdoor theater shows and social gatherings. It's now a great park where people fish, walk their dogs, take some awesome photography or just have a nice picnic under some huge shade trees with the river breeze.

So now Island Dock will either be section 8 housing (just had two low income projects built) or high priced condos for NYC retirees. Kind of sad that the two section 8 projects built last year look like hell already. Broken down cars, litter and beer cans rule the grounds at these two places and cops are called on a daily basis. In "historic" uptown Kingston they are looking to put an 8 story townhouse complex up, repleat with scenic mountain views. I can't imagine they are going to be under $200k a pop.

Yet again, nothing for the working middle class. I don't expect anything for free, if I did I'd have a nice new 2 bedroom section 8 apartment. But no politician has worked for smart growth. No politico has even attempted to get decent paying jobs back in the area. They loooove to push the fact that new fast food restaurants are opening up, a new car wash is going in, and a bunch of new hotels are coming to town (for who I can't figure out). But, these create jobs they say. For who? You can't support a family on nickel and dime retail jobs.

Here's the link to today's announcement, I'm sort of pissed off that I missed this meeting. But I never saw any announcements that it was even going to happen.

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/site/index.cfm?BRD=1769&dept_id=74969&newsid=16225179&PAG=461&rfi=9
 

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RottyB5A2 said:
They loooove to push the fact that new fast food restaurants are opening up, a new car wash is going in, and a bunch of new hotels are coming to town (for who I can't figure out). But, these create jobs they say. For who? You can't support a family on nickel and dime retail jobs.
So start up your own metal fab company and sell fixtures to these retail outlets. Or a temp agency to provide them with their low rent workers. Or become a CPA to help them with their taxes. Or a marketing firm to help them with publicity. Or develop some software to manage their inventory. Or ... you get the idea.

Development is good.. you don't need to actually work at these places to benefit from them.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
passaturbonium said:
Tell me something....say 1500-2000 sq ft house on .5-1 acre....how much is it up there?

Just wondering. I work about 20 min from the City....might be worth moving up if its cheap enough.

TIA
Yea I know, not as bad as CT. But it's only been since 99 or so that real estate has sky rocketed in this area. Here's a guess-timate:

Westchester- $350-400k
Sullivan & most of Orange- $300-350k
Dutchess and 50% of Ulster- $225-275k, depends on area in Ulster

With out financial backing from large sponsor or proven financial history, even with a credit score in the 800's, I still would not be able to open up something big enough on my current salary. Trust me, no excuses here and I'm sure it's possible if you sincerely put your nose to it and dig for $$ to start up, it could maybe be done.

Like I said in my original post, change is good and I always welcome it. But bringing in nothing but nickel and dime paying jobs and promoting either high income or low income homes does nothing for the working middle class. The politicos say it drives down the tax base. Well sort of. But all of the housing developments going up raises the neighboring street's assessments. Or the flip side when a low income housing project is built and it starts to deteriate like the two new ones here, the neighboring home's values drop. But we've got Arby's, Hampton Inn, Dunkin Donuts, Big Bubble laundromat and an unknown car wash coming in. Well, that's great I guess but now that the roads need to be widened, water/sewer lines need to be updated and enlarged.

Who knows, it's just sad to see more and more open space disappear, especially existing parks that I use on a regular basis.
 
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