|Residential Construction has exploded in Beulah, blowing out our infrastructure. Now what, allow more--on one of the last big parcels in Beulah, one that the county controls currently?!?|
Beulah is growing, it has been for years. When I came aboard the County Commission, in late 2016 less than two years ago, this phenomenon was already well under way and I knew it coming in.
I get it, and now it is my problem, I inherited it, yes, but now I own it as your county commissioner in this district.
And we all get it.
Developers want to make money. We all want to make money.
So residential development has blown up in Beulah because it is close to the freeway, close to town, and close to Navy Federal Credit Union. Land WAS (used to be) affordable-- So it was the perfect location to build, and it created the perfect storm in terms of traffic.
Because the infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth. Everyone knows this. I know it because I live here and we here lived here a long time--way before the growth explosion happened.
So now we are at a crossroad. Infrastructure is planned and under construction around Beulah. More is Planned. We will get another interchange within the next 5-8 years. That's coming. 4-Lanes for 9-Mile Road? Yes, that's coming late next year. Improvements and traffic signals on Mobile Hwy--check, they're coming. fixes to north south county roads (Klondike, 8-Mile Creek, Beulah Road)? In planning right now as we speak. A modernized fire station, it's coming. Elementary school? (needed but not up to us, up to ECSD). I say all of this to say this: Typically, infrastructure follows growth--it's just the way it works--otherwise the government builds roads to nowhere, bridges to nowhere, and airports that are not essential. Growth drives infrastructure unless you live in a High-TAX blue state that charges exorbitant, destructive development fees like Mello-Roos fees in California for instance. Luckily and thankfully, we're a red state and a red community. We don't do that here.
Meanwhile, private developers have purchased properties in Beulah that are zoned a certain way, with the intention of developing said properties. And once these properties are zoned by the county and purchased by private individuals, and once these private individuals jump through the development review hoops to get approval for construction--they have the RIGHT to build what they have planned!
It's called private property rights--and I am a strong supporter of private property rights, within the bounds of zoning by the county, in order to manage growth appropriately.
So now that the growth train has left the station out here--what are the only means by which we can mitigate the impacts of more out-of-control residential growth?
1. Plan. I have impaneled a 9-member, BCC sanctioned committee to study this issue and bring a master plan concept forward to the citizens in order to help address this issue going forward.
2. Look closely at up-zonings. I have voted against the last three that did not meet the public interest (i.e. they would have exacerbated the current traffic and infrastructure problems in Beulah). I'll continue to vote against these and PUD's that don't help the situation out here dramatically--unless there is a compelling reason not to do this.
3. Don't exacerbate the problem with Government-Owned property. We will soon own OLF 8 in the heart of Beulah and we will decide how it is to be zoned. Tabula Rasa. Blank Slate. If we make solid decisions with how we allow it to be zoned and developed--we can help mitigate the out-of-control growth in residential construction out here that has blown out our infrastructure. If we're smart. If we allow more high-impact, high-density, traffic-exacerbating residential construction on this soon-to-be acquired property---then we are only making the problem worse.
I won't vote to make things worse.