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Voter approval of new school is not an invitation for growth

April 8, 2014

Cape voters sent a strong message last week: Children deserve up-to­date schools built where they live. Sixty percent of Cape voters ap­proved a tax increase to pay for a new el­ementary school on Route 24, across the road from the Beacon Middle School campus.

But that should not mean voters want more growth. Opponents to the plan complained Route 24 is already congested, and most Cape Region residents would agree. Still, by building a school closer to where hundreds of students live, the new school should shorten bus rides – and that means more children will get to school faster.

That could reduce the number of parents who routinely drive their children to school.

The new elementary will serve students who already live in the Cape Region. But every day, new homes are going up, and more projects are pending – including a zoning change request to allow increased density on a Route 24 parcel near the planned school.

County officials should not take approval of the new school as an invitation to approve more housing.

On the contrary, council should approve no more requests for residential or commercial upzoning until it can enact impact fees to offset the costs that an increasing population requires, including schools.

While they are at it, now is the time to clearly limit building height. Instead of re­thinking the entire height ordinance, just close the loophole that has allowed several recent buildings to rise beyond the long-held limit of 42 feet.

Land in our region is only going to increase in value, and with rising land value comes pressure to build higher buildings or other­wise increase density.

For council, the decision is simple: No free increases in building heights, and no free increases in density.

The time has come to demand that develop­ers pay a more equitable share of the cost of future growth.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Dave Frederick, sports editor.