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Tuesday, April 04, 2006


the problem with sprawl

The main problem with sprawl is summed up by the question "what does it cost, and who has to pay for it?" The fast moving outward expansion of housing, here in Colorado Springs and in the Denver metropolitan area is an extensive. What is needed to support these new subdivisions? How do they become accessible and habitable to the public? The answer is simple there must also be a corresponding expansion of the cities infrastructure. This infrastructural expansion consists of many different state and city funded projects, such a: New roads need to be built, existing sewer lines need to be expanded to support the new subdivision possibly leading to the need of new wastewater and sewage treatment facilities; new street lighting and other ‘Public goods’ will need to be put up; power lines and remote power distribution stations will have to be built; public services will need to be expanded including, police, fire department, Ambulance services; and then there are the school districts that will need to be upgraded with new buildings, teachers, staff and administrators and if that is not enough whole new districts will have to be created, all of this must be done in order to create a successful new subdivision in order to support the massive amounts of new families and their children. BUT like I asked earlier, who pays for all of this? The answer, simply put, we as taxpayers do.

The developers are building houses by the thousands and making millions of dollars from doing it. But what do they have to pay for to build, do they pay for the infrastructure that is required to support their new unique community. The answer is no, they are required to build the roads within there own subdivision, but not to link them to any other road outside of it, they run the sewer lines under the roads, but do not pay to have them connected to already existing service lines, so that helps a little, err, I guess. These developers are making, millions upon millions and they are costing the taxpayers millions of dollars annually. Furthermore, this financial burden is not left up to just the consumers of the new homes either. It is being given to the municipalities to pay for, who are funded by limited tax budgets. According to a study by the Denver Regional Council of Governments “(a) 12-square-mile expansion of the (Denver) metro area urban growth boundary would cost taxpayers an additional $293 million in infrastructure costs, and that $30 million of these costs would be borne by the region and state, rather than limited to the community where the growth is occurring.”

So my question, is should something be done about it? Should the state of Colorado use its constitutionally granted police powers to coerce the developers and consumers of sprawl to pay for these costs? If these costs burdens were given solely to those who created them, would the sprawl continue? What would be the possible economic repercussions of this? and do you think that the developers would fight any type of legislation via means of lobbying, and political contributions?

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