Over the last four years, our leaders in Springfield and Clark County have been annexing land to the City and encouraging the development of 1,996 new homes. 1,828 of those are on what is formerly County land. I question whether this is responsible, positive growth. It seems that one particular area of our county is being inundated with these developments, which will stress current residents, schools and service providers.
Part of the reason this development is problematic is because our country is running out of farmland and farmers to grow our food. Ours was once a thriving agricultural community.
In addition, there is the extreme increase in traffic, noise, and congestion in these formerly quiet (farm) neighborhoods, and at least one of these projects also includes commercial and retail business. Where is the consideration of the impact of these problems on current residents? The plight and wishes of the people living around these developments appears to be inconsequential to our community leaders.
Now consider the impact on schools. Clark-Shawnee is the primary victim in this situation. Clark-Shawnee has a brand-new elementary school building, and renovations to what is now Shawnee Middle and High School, both completed in August 2021. Brian Kuhn, Superintendent of Clark-Shawnee Schools, said in April that the size of these buildings was based on the fact that the population of Clark County was falling. He also said the City hadn’t conferred with him about the impact when they approved the Bridgewater Development (226 single family homes), nor the Sycamore Ridge Development (258 single family homes), nor the development being planned by Borror Property Management (737 single-family homes, 375 multi-family homes, and 146 patio-style homes), all of which are in the Clark-Shawnee District. To save you the time doing the math, that’s 1,734 new homes, with an average of two kids per home (not figuring in more for the multi-family homes), equaling at least 3,468 new kids in the Clark-Shawnee District, and at least 6,936 new people living in Springfield Township.
Are you thinking about how much school and residential services are going to cost for those 7,000 new people in Springfield Township? I am.
The City has already given the Bridgewater and Sycamore projects Tax Incremental Financing (TIF), although the TIF for each project is slightly different. A TIF greatly benefits the City because they collect 75% of the property taxes on each property for 10 years. Only 25% of property taxes go to the school district where the children go to school. To their credit, the City applied a New Community Authority to the Sycamore project to generate an additional 4 mills of property tax to be split equally between the Township and Schools. To date, we’ve not gotten details about the TIF for the Borror project, but there will probably be one.
However, it’s important to recognize that current taxpayers in this district are still paying for the building of a new elementary school and remodeling of the Junior/Senior high. With around 3,500 new students, Clark-Shawnee will have to ask for yet another tax increase from Clark-Shawnee voters to pay for additional space, staff, busing, and operations for these new students. Let’s be clear, this burden will mostly be on the backs of current Clark-Shawnee District taxpayers because of the TIF.
Similarly, there is also a burden on Springfield Township to provide for services like police, fire, road maintenance, brush removal, and solid waste disposal. Current Township residents will be taxed for these services provided to the newcomers. The newcomers aren’t paying their fair share because of the TIF. Adding to this problem is the fact that the newcomers will be residents of both the city and township, meaning they will be able to vote on taxes that they don’t have to pay, and services that don’t affect them. For example, let’s say the City is responsible for the newcomers’ police and fire service. A police and fire levy serving only the Township residents could be voted down by the newcomers.
These developments present a dramatic and unfair tax burden on the people in Springfield Township and the Clark-Shawnee School District. Springfield Township residents are victims of taxation without representation. By the City’s annexation of these lands, they are forcing an increase in Springfield Township residents’ taxes. But because we don’t live in the city, Township residents are not able to vote for or against the elected officials making these decisions.
I implore our leaders to re-examine the impact of these annexations and developments before approving these subdivisions. I believe this is poorly managed growth, resulting in urban sprawl and the over-taxing of services and utilities. We should encourage new people to bring their skills and talents to our community, but we must be smart about it. As a community we should have a say in what type of growth works, where to encourage it, and the impact on those surrounding it.
Melissa Baker is a Springfield Township resident.
DEVELOPMENTS IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS
2019 – 34 Townhouses, Center Street Townes, corner of Center and West Columbia streets, 15-year property tax exemption
2019 - 226 single family homes, behind Walmart on Tuttle, Bridgewater
2020 – 48 apartments, parking lot near City Hall, Unknown status
2021 - 94 multi-family residential units, 15.4 acres at 3641 Middle Urbana Road, Redwood
2022 - 80 Apartments, two restaurants and two to four small shops, Wren’s Department Store (AKA the McAdams Building) 31 East High Street
2022 - 258 single family homes, East Leffel Lane and South Burnett Road, Sycamore Ridge
2022 – 1,256 homes consisting of 737 single-family homes, 375 multi-family homes, and 146 patio-style homes, plus retail and commercial options, patio and multi-family homes are expected to be rentable units 2023, 378 acres Farmland plus NextEdge Office Park and Melody Drive-In, Borror Property Management
Housing affordability in the Miami Valley
As rents continue to climb across the region and many local residents find themselves working in occupations that on average do not pay enough for them to afford modest rental units, affordable housing is becoming an increasingly important issue for our communities and communities across the nation. New housing and commercial developments are planned across our region and each one sparks heated debate among residents who will live near them, the developers of these projects and civic leaders who must balance the needs of existing residents with growing the local economy and attracting newcomers.
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» Cost of redevelopment should not include displacing residents
» Regional approach required to tackle affordable housing
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