By Tammy Pawling, Guest Columnist
June 2, 2004
A flurry of articles have appeared in the Daily Local News over the past few weeks commenting on the proposed 24 percent tax increase in the Coatesville Area School District. Many point to the need for industrial and commercial properties to offset the taxpayer burden of covering the increasing costs to educate our children.
A comparison of area school districts is evidence that those with more office/warehouse and high-end commercial concerns have much lower school taxes. For instance, Great Valley School District has 16 percent light industrial (office/warehouse) zoned area with residents paying only 13.29 mills real estate tax as opposed to the Coatesville school district where there is only 5 percent light industrial and consequently a much higher tax rate of 24.27 mills, the highest in Chester County.
In Sadsbury Township, a developer (Arcadia Land) has petitioned the supervisors for a zoning change on 80 acres currently zoned light industrial to allow a planned residential development. Arcadias proposed project would contain 464 dwellings combining condos, townhomes and high-density single-family homes. Arcadia estimates its development would add nearly 300 children to the Coatesville school district, almost one half of the 621 students already attending Rainbow Elementary School.
According to Arcadias fiscal impact study, the cost impact of their project on school taxes would be substantial.
If the zoning remains light industrial, approximately $1.8 million per year would be generated for the school district, as opposed to only just over $1 million for the proposed residential development -- a difference of nearly $1 million per year. A further negative impact would be the number of jobs lost.
And, it is likely the difference between the two plans is actually even more dramatic than Arcadias figures indicate, because a fiscal impact study compares numbers available in a snapshot of time. If new schools need to be constructed to accommodate the increase in students, the figures given in a fiscal impact study are no longer accurate. As noted above, with a 50 percent increase in the number of students expected at Rainbow Elementary just from this development alone, it is very likely additional schools will need to be built, a substantial cost impact of residential development not included in Arcadias fiscal impact study.
The residents in Sadsbury Township have indicated that they do not favor changing the existing light industrial zoning to high-density residential. In fact, in a recent random survey conducted by a citizens group, Stop Over-development in Sadsbury (S.O.S.), over 96 percent of the nearly 700 residents surveyed opposed the zoning change. However, the decision whether or not to grant this zoning change rests solely with the township supervisors. They alone will decide whether Sadsbury Township will become part of the tax-relief solution, or add to the tax burden of homeowners throughout the Coatesville school district.
Unfortunately the supervisors seem to be unwilling to look at the big picture and appear to favor the developers plan. If this is true, their shortsightedness will affect not just those who live in Sadsbury Township, but all Coatesville school district taxpayers.
As the remaining open land within our district is rapidly disappearing, it is imperative that we dont squander any chance to enjoy long-lasting tax relief. Sadsbury Township could provide a key to the tax and employment solution, but only if the supervisors dont throw it away in favor of fiscally irresponsible high-density housing. As fellow Coatesville Area School District residents and neighbors, please join us in urging the Sadsbury Township supervisors and school district officials to meet and discuss this golden opportunity before its too late.
The writer lives in Sadsbury.
İDaily Local News 2004
Name: Valerie Crescenz
Date: Jun, 02 2004
Thank you, Tammy, for doing the homework! Let's hope the supervisors will listen!
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