Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Why Should Taxpayers Foot The Bill for Roads The New Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart Super Center Needs?

Now it looks like those secret talks the developers of the proposed Mt. Pleasant Wal-Mart Super Center/ Sam's Club project held with Union Township many months ago may wind up costing taxpayers some big bucks.

Which raises the question again, why should local businesses, which are already going to lose more business to Wal-Mart, be forced to subsidize their own demise? They don't get any tax breaks or subsidized new infrastructure for their businesses.

According to the Dec. 16 Morning Sun, a new expensive road will need to be built to handle the huge amounts of additional traffic on business US-127 aka South Mission, a road already jammed at the Bluegrass Road intersection which is also a main artery onto CMU's campus. They didn't mention that Bluegrass Road would also have to be widened to four lanes to accommodate the increased traffic flow with local taxpayers contributing to that project.

In Maryland most developers are forced to pick up the full tab for roads needed for their projects along with the cost of extending utilities. If other developments come along later that also take advantage of those roads and improvements then they are required to reimburse the first developer for a fair share of the cost of those public improvements. That way taxpayers do not subsidize development. Development pays for improvements and also subsidizes the local tax base.

Wal-Mart's lower prices come at a cost with most communities subsidizing them in one way or another. Taxpayers across America are already subsidizing Wal-Mart's failure to provide health care coverage for all of its employees. Now they want us to subsidize more of their project.

Before the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe opened the Soaring Eagle Casino an extensive study was done on the economic and social impact and the tribe identified the impacts on traffic, policing and roads. The Tribe has also done a pretty good job of offsetting those impacts too as signs around our community can attest with many local infrastructure improvements funded by 2% grants. The tribe also pays for the special joint traffic task force. They've been responsible neighbors and have picked up the tab for needed improvements to integrate their projects into the community.

Sam's Club and the Wal-Mart Super Center will also have a huge impact on Mt. Pleasant, not unlike the impact of the casino. Those impacts will directly affect the livelihoods of many of our local businesses. Anyone care to guess what kind of impact study the developer-friendly Union Township officials ordered up to assess the impact of the new development? Stay tuned.Guess what the topic at the January ICDP meeting will be.

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