2007-02-17 / Editorials & Letters

Writers concerned about Baltimore growth projections

Editor;

We hope our council and/or neighbors of Baltimore wake up before it is too late and most of us are forced out. This will occur as it has in many other villages by the problems associated with development: higher taxes/fees, increase in crime, overcrowded schools, and loss of small town feel.

According to the updated version of the land use plan, the goal is to reach a population of approximately 5,200 in Baltimore by 2015 and continue up from there. Currently our village has a population of around 3,000. Is anyone listening to worried residents?

On August 15, 2006, Marsha Hall, Baltimore Village Administrator, stated, One worry that residents have noted to me is that they do not want to become another (city to the west), and are concerned that we are not preparing.

Don't worry about becoming another city to the west, because the projected growth rate for Baltimore is higher than the city to the west (Pickerington) during their highest growth periods. The village projects growth of around 73% in less than eight years. Also once rapid development begins it cannot be controlled. Pickerington tried to slow growth to 100 houses/year to limit the growth that was/is crippling its schools and was sued by the same developers that were causing the problems. Pickerington was forced to settle out of court, stating the reasons for settling as a fear of legal fees and the likelihood of losing the case.

Thus this growth will bring many problems including increased taxes and fees paid for by us as can be seen with the current $324/year sewage debt fee. This in part was to correct Ohio EPA violations, but was built much larger/costlier than needed to prepare for future development. Next, a new water tower will be erected and even higher monthly fees/rates will be forced on us.

Baltimore does have impact fees and school dedication fees required from future developers. The fees are not high enough. An example would be the planned housing units would need to pay approximately $21,067/each for a school dedication fee for the burden each new student would place on the LU-T school district. Anything less than this amount will allow the burden to fall to us as it has to Pickerington residents, time and time again ($21,067/each is based on a new school cost of $15 million divided by the 712 new housing units). This number was based on a conservative estimate of an additional 500 new students that will force either an expansion of all three schools including the not-yet-built middle school or require an additional school to be built/renovated and then a splitting of the grades into four schools. Or we can teach our children in trailers as other rapidly growing school districts currently do.

Another problem with high growth is increased crime as stated in the Pataskala Standard on January 10, 2007 by Etna Township Trustee George. When referring to drawbacks of growth, George said Etna Township has the highest crime rate of any township in the county.

The enormous costs are not just limited to the wallet or purse. Why should the current residents of Baltimore pay for development that will eventually force our own family out of the surroundings we enjoy? Doesn't the council understand that if we wanted to live in a city we would move to Columbus or Reynoldsburg. Please don't turn our Baltimore into another heartless city. So who will this benefit? It may financially benefit a handful, but it will cost all of us our community and the thousands of friends, families, and neighbors within it. Anyone who cares for Baltimore and Liberty Union should talk to council members, friends, and neighbors.

Baltimore - 1085 acres Thurston -158 acres 2125 acres developed by 2025

TIF (tax increment financing)

ReasonOnline January 30, 2006 Politicians get a shiny, new, multi-million project to take credit for with little upfront cost and developers get below-market financing and other subsidies. Everyone wins except the general public. The average tax-paying schmo has to pay for general government services for the free-riding new development.

ReasonOnline January 2006 If the economic growth occurs with TIFs, that attracts people to the area and thereby raises enrollments. In that case, the cost of teaching the new students will be borne by property owners outside the TIF districts. The NCBG study found, for instance, that the 36 TIF districts would cost Chicago public schools $632 million (based on development that would have occurred anyway) in property tax revenue, because the property tax rates are frozen for schools as well.

Patricia Greene Baltimore

Scott Wray Liberty Township

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