by Abbe Laboda, Preserve Rural Milton
January 20, 2014 While it's important to recognize that the city is in agreement with Preserve Rural Milton's stance that growth and development have gotten out of hand, folks also need to know that the current 30-day moratorium on zoning variances, albeit a positive step forward, accomplishes just a small amount.
It still allows for AG-1 building, which is one home per acre. I'd like to see a 120-day moratorium on variances to allow for additional research in alternative development methods.
It is unrealistic to think that we can stop growth; what is realistic is to think outside the box in terms of how new subdivisions are built so as to preserve wildlife space, green space, specimen trees, historical buildings and a rural viewshed along roadways.
In addition, I think it is important that we as a community change the way we think about our lifestyle and how it pertains to the land. This is a dynamic opportunity for folks wishing they lived on more land to make a move by renovating an existing house or by building smaller in order to achieve their economic goals. More importantly, we need to understand how we can utilize tools like conservation areas and land trusts. One of our goals is identifying ways in which we as a community can preserve the integrity of our properties and our city while maximizing our land values. Our land values have increased not only with the marketplace, but because it's a highly desirable area. It makes sense that as our density increases, the quality of life decreases and so will our land values.
The zoning and policies put in place when we became a city were good at the time, but now have created unintended consequences. One of the components we are actively working on now is revisiting zoning and policy to effectively meet our ultimate goal of preserving as much of the land as possible.
So far, Preserve Rural Milton has received tremendous positive feedback on our efforts, especially in Laura Rencher's quick effectiveness and our inclusive, respectful manner in which we have been working. I think this approach will make it a win-win for everyone.