Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Milton gets growing pains .

by Jonathan Copsey / The Milton Herald

January 13, 2014

There has been a lot of talk recently about how Milton is changing.

For many residents, Milton was their choice for a home because it was close enough to the city yet far enough away that it still held rural, country charm. Horse farms, forests and creeks are interspersed with quiet neighborhoods.

Through the efforts of the city leaders, Milton has become widely known as one of the best cities in the nation to live and raise a family.

It seems Milton is a victim of its own success, with those farms and forests disappearing to make way for housing developments.

With 900 (or more) homes slated to be built in Milton this year alone, it's no wonder people are concerned about quality of life. This is the housing boom all over again.

There are claims that Milton is being ruined – that developers are running amok. They are snatching up whatever land they can to build as many houses as they can. Developers are accused of preying on poor homeowners and destroying the quiet country life upon which Milton prides itself.

I have a few issues with these thoughts.

There have been frightened, hectic calls against "third-party" interests, as if these people are some shadowy cabal dead-set on ruining the city. These third parties do not exist. They are, in fact, your neighbors – and, potentially, you.

If you and your family sit on 5 acres of land, and you sell to a developer, do you really think they will keep just one house? No. They will try to fit as many homes as they can onto your property. One of Milton's best identifying features is houses sitting on 1 acre. So your 5-acre estate may very well be turned into at least five homes. Possibly more.

If you sell to a developer, you know exactly what is going to happen to your land.

But the city is not deaf to resident concerns. They have already issued a moratorium for new rezoning cases. This will not affect development that does not require rezoning. A strengthening of the land buffer laws – those that determine how close a building can be to the edge of its neighbor – is also envisioned. Steps such as these will surely help slow the tide of new, large development; however they will not stop all development. Nor should they.

There is very little the city can do to mitigate the problem (but be assured, they are doing what they can).

There is the issue of "property rights." That is, a landowner has the right to do with their land what they choose, to a point. They have the right to develop their land just as neighboring land was developed.

Milton cannot simply close its borders to newcomers. Not only is that the wrong thing to do, it is simply impossible. People will go where they want. To paraphrase the classic film "Field of Dreams," if you build new Milton homes, they will come.

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