By: Jennifer Marie Savage 12/11/2003
With the prospect of a 605-unit housing development in West Sadsbury looming in the background, along with several other developments planned for the Octorara region, Octorara Area School Board member Bob Hume implored the Parkesburg council to consider the impact of some of their recent decisions.
Of specific concern to Hume was the council's decision to change the zoning of property along the Quarry for a 300-plus residential development and the council's purchase of 22 acres in West Sadsbury's industrial district for open space.
"We're the last place, they're [developers] going to close in," Hume noted. "The residents are going to pay heavy."
Instead of being concerned with open space, Hume said local officials should be focused on bringing businesses into the region to supplement the school district's tax base, and he said the council purchasing land in an industrial-zoned area isn't helping with that goal.
Because of the purchase, and some of the other recent purchases made by the council, Hume, who is a resident of Parkesburg Borough, said, "There should be a spending plan, seven to 10 years, in place."
The school district administration has expressed concern about the influx of residential developments, in particular the possibility of a 605-unit development in West Sadsbury. The developers of that proposed development need to appear before the West Sadsbury Township Zoning Hearing Board for a variance since the area the development is being proposed for is zoned Office/Commercial.
The school district sent a letter to the township, advising the burden and financial impact changing the zoning for the development would have on the district and area taxpayers.
In response to Hume's remarks, Parkesburg Council President Jim Norton maintained that he believes the council has made the right decision to purchase the land in West Sadsbury, adding, "I don't feel 22 acres will have an impact."
However, Norton also noted they won't likely know for 10 to 15 years whether the purchase was a good move or not.
Councilor Alan Wolfe said the solution lies in tax reform and when legislators talk of tax reform, they are in reality "scared too death of it." He said true tax reform wouldn't take place until taxpayers "get up in arms and say, 'eliminate the property tax.'"
Wolfe said a switch from the property tax to an income or earned income tax makes sense because the school district and the borough already have such a tax in place.
©ParkesBurg Post Ledger 2003
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