Saturday, March 14, 2009

Action Alert

It’s time to take action.

1. Contact members of the Planning and Development Committee today. Help them understand that we must make smart growth the policy of the State of Connecticut as proposed in House Bill 6465 & 6467.

You can find a list of committee members by cutting and pasting this address into your browser window.

See below for talking points on pending smart growth legislation.

2. Plan to attend the budget forum nearest you. The Smart Growth message on the state budget is that strategic investments will speed our economic recovery and investments require revenue.
Please share any feedback you receive with 1000 Friends. Thank you. Forums will be:
· March 16th from 7 to 8:30 PM at Norwalk City Hall
· March 18th from 6 to 8 PM at The Student Center at Western CT State University, Danbury
· March 23rd from 6 to 8 PM at Burroughs Community Center, Bridgeport
· March 26th from 6 to 7:30 at New Britain City Hall
· March 26th from 6 to 8 PM at Bristol City Hall
· March 28th from 10 to 11:30AM Aldermanic Chambers, New Haven City Hall
· March 30th from 6 to 8 PM at Trumbull Public Library
· March 31st from 6 to 7:30 PM at Whittemore Library, Naugatuck
· March 31st from 6:30 to 8 PM at Library Fireside Commons, Manchester Community College
· March 31st from 7 to 9 PM at Memorial Town Hall, Madison
· April 2nd from 7 to 9 PM at Nathaniel Greene Community Center, Guilford
· April 7th from 7 to 9 PM Branford Community House

Talking Points
Smart Growth programs and investments are good for the economy now and into the future.
· Every dollar spent on a brownfield project generates a $1.50 to $1.70 return in the long term plus the immediate benefit resulting from the creation of remediation and construction jobs.
· For every million dollars spent on smart growth road projects – restoration, resurfacing, rehabilitation and construction, 95.2 person years of full-time work is created.
· Every new unit of affordable housing creates 1.257 jobs.
· Every new household in Connecticut pays $1,960 to $11,554 in property taxes annually.
· Every dollar invested in transit results in a $5 savings in wait times and driving costs alone (additional economic benefits result from particulate matter and green house gas emission reductions).
· Residential property and land values increase 2 to 18 percent if they’re near transit. Commercial property values increase 9 to 167 percent with proximity to transit.

Connecticut faces an historic budget deficit, though the Governor and democrats do not now agree on the exact level of the hole in our next biennial budget, there is no debate that the state fiscal outlook is bleak. We cannot afford poorly considered investments. Screening all state investments through a smart growth filter would ensure projects that meet growth and development priorities are funded ahead of pet projects and pork.

The current system of land use planning and project funding has resulted in crippling urban disinvestment and a staggering loss of open space and farmland. Business as usual isn’t economically or environmentally sustainable. There is broad based grass roots support for a better, smarter policy process and investment criteria.

Integrating smart growth principles into local, regional and state land use, economic development, land preservation and transportation plans will result in strategic state spending.

Support HB 6467 which defines smart growth and requires smart growth principles in local, regional and state plans.

Support HB 6465 which requires the Transportation Strategy Board to prioritize transportation projects applying smart growth criteria.

The Arguments
Critics say: If the state applies a smart growth filter, it prohibits individual property owners from using their land as they see fit.
We say: Property owners may continue to do with their land whatever is allowed by local regulations. The State has no obligation to fund any project. State government represents the interests of us all, and must therefore invest in what is beneficial to the greatest number of citizens. Especially in this fiscal climate, that means our tax dollars must be invested in projects that generate the best long-term result for current citizens, the natural environment and future generations.

Critics say: Our programs already undergo a lengthy and cumbersome review. Applying a smart growth filter would add another bureaucratic layer and slow the process even further.
We say: The projects approved using current review processes have resulted in increasing urban disinvestment, a loss of open land that is seven times greater than the rate of population growth and is in the top ten nationally, stifling traffic congestion, unhealthy air quality, significant water supply and quality concerns, and a loss of 7,000 to 9,000 acres of farmland a year. It’s time we apply a filter that delivers sustainable outcomes!

Critics say: Cities and towns could lose out on essential property tax revenue from new developments the market demands.
We say: If there is truly market demand for these projects and local residents and leaders want them, the cities and towns can subsidize what the market won’t provide. Especially now, the State should not be in the practice of subsidizing what benefits an individual community’s grand list in the short-run and costs us all in opportunities for smart growth projects lost now and in the future.
We are very sympathetic to municipalities’ need to generate property tax revenue. The State should increase revenues from other sources and reduce our reliance on the property tax.

Critics say: Filtering projects will mean that we have to hire more state employee reviewers. Our state budget is too out-of-whack and state staff is too stretched already.
We say: The costs for state agencies to screen for smart growth will be more than recouped by the savings that will result foregoing investment in projects that aren’t smart and by the economic multiplier resulting from smart growth projects.

Critics say: If the state requires local and regional plans to incorporate smart growth principles, it is autocratic and counter to Connecticut’s home rule culture.
We say: Only state government represents the interests of all our citizens. It is the responsibility of state government to protect the more than three million current residents of Connecticut and the present and future inhabitants of its natural environment from the negative externalities that may result from the plans or decisions of a few people currently elected to serve in any one our 169 towns. Anything else is anti-democratic and unfair.

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