Letter: Who will pay costs of development?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

We observe, across our nation, that taxes go up after major development, even though the developers promise the opposite. Why? Developers get rich by making the community pay the long-term costs of their development. Projects like the one proposed for Richmond Hill have real, externalized costs, as well as intangible costs. We need to identify those costs and ask who will pay for them.

Riverside Drive will need to be expanded and traffic lights added to cover the increased traffic, estimated to be more than 3,000 vehicle trips each day. Who will pay for the expansion? The landowner, the developer or the local taxpayers?

The development will need a bridge over the river and railroad tracks. Who will pay for the bridge? The landowner, the developer or the local taxpayers?

After the development is done and the developer leaves with his moneybag, who will pay to maintain the bridge and the roads through the development? Will the landowner and residents of the Bluffs cover the entire costs, or will the other residents of Woodfin be required to cover part of the maintenance costs?

If the construction vehicles are permitted to use Asheville city roads through Richmond Hill, they will tear up the roads, leading to costly repairs. Will Asheville city taxpayers have to cover these costs, while all the tax revenues from the development go to Woodfin?

After the development increases local traffic by 3,000 trips each day, we will all pay the costs related to sitting in the traffic jam. Just consider the traffic problems that have followed development on the south side of Asheville and the regular delays on Interstate 26.

There will be other related infrastructure costs. Who will pay to maintain the water and sewer lines, expanding the schools, fire department and other related services? It won’t be the developer. And without a clear plan upfront, it won’t be just the landowner and new residents.

When the landowner realizes he can increase his profits by expanding the project, loading down infrastructure even further, we will all pay the related costs. What prevents this from happening?

This list fails to address very real, but less tangible environmental costs, such as stormwater runoff, and social costs such as neighborhoods ceasing to be walkable by their own residents as the increased traffic makes walking unsafe. How will these costs be managed? Who will be held responsible?

For those accusing the Richmond Hill community of NIMBYism, we have simple questions. Are you willing to have your taxes raised so that a Florida developer can make a quick buck? By how much? Are you willing to tell your own children they cannot ride their bike in front of their own house because there is too much traffic?

Learn more about the real costs of mismanaged development: strongtowns.org, grow-wise.org, ashevillegreenworks.org and ashevilleonbikes.com.

— Karl Kuhn


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6 thoughts on “Letter: Who will pay costs of development?

  1. Face Value

    Taxes go up for all the worthless pet projects the city and county want to do. Solar panels on a bus station , bike lanes on Charlotte st. If the units pay city taxes, that’s how roads and infrastructure are maintained. And generally the infrastructure is installed by the developer. Nothing new, NIMBYism? Yes, I can live here but you may not. If you hate development so much move to the country.

  2. Robert McGee

    ‘Who will be held responsible?’ Mr. Kuhn asks.
    Well, here are some thoughts…
    -Since the City of Asheville has known about trucks jack-knifing and other traffic issues on Richmond Hill Drive for years, the City of Asheville will be held responsible.
    -Since Asheville’s elected leaders have been provided with traffic studies showing that Mr. Kuhn’s conservative number of 3,000 might really be closer to 10,000, the City of Asheville will be held responsible.
    -Since long-time tax-paying Asheville citizens have repeatedly asked Asheville’s mayor and councilwomen to help ensure that The Bluffs On River Bend proceeds in a manner that does not negatively impact the mental/physical health and public safety (and since they thus far have not stepped up), the City of Asheville will be held responsible.
    It’s very simple. The City of Asheville can leverage their power to ensure that the developer commits to building his bridge before this ill-conceived project proceeds. The City of Asheville can deny road permits. They can do a number of other things related to easements and sewage issues. Now might be a good time to fend this fiasco off so that Asheville tax dollars don’t get chewed up in future years paying for failures.
    And I haven’t even gotten to issues related to storm water runoff, obligations to protect the French Broad River, or the potential need to mobilize National Guard troops should Madison Cawthorn or some other seditious-minded young fellow stir up any mayhem.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      Why are so many democrackkk led cities in shambles? WHY do democrackkks have NO leadership ability to improve their domain ???

  3. mountaingal

    Thank you for your excellent letter, Mr. Kuhn. We have seen in the past a shocking (and even criminal) degree of official malfeasance as local leaders have seemingly become intoxicated by personal gains. Granting welcoming dollars and permissions to high dollar builders fails our local communities and may enrich decision makers. Our leaders must act smart and transparently while fairly considering all ramifications and equity. Buncombe County needs to do a better job protecting what we have – not the least of which is a fragmented web of ecosystems that are currently under stress. The county has allowed a land grab for far too long.

  4. Xiden lost, we all know it.

    Tax dollars come before complaints from neighbors, haven’t you people been paying attention? You don’t matter, Buncombe commissioners have a “progressive” agenda to fund. By the way, people that live near the new development will have their assessments and taxes raised too, when you have near by comparable properties selling for far more than your assessment was.

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