Friday, December 19, 2008

The Great Open Space Debate (It Was Civil)

The issue of an open space tax has been thoroughly debated in our township. It was a good, fair and civil debate. Both sides vigorously presented their view of the tax. Both sides acknowledged that each had the resident’s best interests at heart. They just disagreed fundamentally on how those interests should be addressed. That's ok. It seems now when people disagree with the BOS or their supporters it is because the BOS is bad and has bad intentions. They feel the need to attack them personally and even try to suppress any information that would support the BOS view. We feel here that the more information available on either side of an issue the better. And, we are ok if you disagree with us. We will not attribute some intellectual or ethical depravity to you; we will just acknowledge our disagreement and continue to argue our side of the issues.

There have been some rumblings as of late, that an open space tax could have helped to stave off the Valhalla project. The idea that the 2 million bond that may have been available due to the open space tax could somehow purchase enough land to stop this project is absurd. The various tracts are rumored to range anywhere from 30million to 50 million dollars. Even using the 2 million to buy development rights would not have gone very far. The project was originally on about half of the acreage anyways. The Heim and Comstock tracts were added later. On top of that it is doubtful that the open space proceeds would have ever been used to purchase the Industrial portion of the project which is where the main portion of the project resides. Besides, we are not convinced that most residents would be ok with handing their hard earned money to a wealthy land owner to keep on living on their property as they always have, just a lot richer. We don’t mean to impugn the land owner who may sell development rights. We believe they would have the best intentions as well. Wanting to preserve their land for generations to come. But, still the idea of taking from the poor to give to the rich still seems a little backwards. Meanwhile, even though residents are essentially paying a tax to this land owner they can’t step foot on the property. This all assumes that any of the money would have ever gotten spent on open space.

In East Brandywine on February 21st, 2007 the BOS voted to spend much of their open space money on their new building. “… $665,000 of the proceeds from the 2003 Bond will be changed to help pay for the new Township buildings. Mr. O’Neill stated that $65,000 would be used to reimburse the open space funds for interest costs and $600,000 would go towards completion of the construction“. They have yet to pay back the money. They do not ever have to repay the money.

Enough said for now, besides much has been said already. See the top ten reasons against the open space tax at our old site:

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