Smart Growth Planning = Economic Development

Smart Growth Planning = Economic Development

Herb Roach has endured many labels during his campaign for mayor. One is “the candidate of no.” When asked to respond, Herb’s short answer was, “It’s OK to say ‘no’ now and then. But let me explain.”

“I have over 35 years of hands-on experience dealing with economic development. I have been involved in over 100 economic development plans as well as the development of over 14 facilities across the country during my career.”

“If elected mayor, I will implement Smart Growth Planning that values long-range, sustainable growth rather than short-term, narrow and often a short-sighted focus on growth for the sake of growth.”

Smart Growth Planning takes many things into consideration within the community. The three most important aspects of Smart Growth Planning are to:
•    Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective.
•    Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development     decisions.
•    Diversify the city’s economy constantly to protect the community during economic downturns.

Mr. Roach says his initial “no” vote on the recent Dollar General relocation is a good example of that Smart Growth approach.  Residents to the North and West of the Highway 50 and Lawn Avenue property had two very legitimate concerns that had not been addressed to his satisfaction:

1. How would retail development add to already major problems with drainage and flooding?

2. What guarantee did they have for development of the lot north of the proposed Dollar General to create a residential buffer?
“The City’s Public Works department has begun a great effort to clean out known problem areas to address the drainage concerns, and after personally talking to the developer, I am satisfied that the buffer development will occur in a timely fashion. Thus, I voted “yes” when the proposal was reconsidered.” Herb stated.
“That’s what Smart Growth is all about; working individually with new businesses and the residents who may be impacted in order to find a win-win solution for all interested parties.”

Herb wants to avoid overestimating the return on investment on proposed development.  He reminds us,  “This city spent over 6 million dollars to build Regency Convention Center and now we lease it out for $1 per year while our residents are stuck paying the debt on those bonds.”

Another economic incentive practice that bothers Mr. Roach is the overuse of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts. He stated,

“As mayor, I will not recommend blanket TIFs. TIF districts place an additional property tax burden on homeowners and non-TIF businesses, and have a negative impact on school finances. We’re already seeing the financial pinch the school districts in our city are facing. We have to do our part to ensure the development decisions we make don’t add to their woes. Remember, the number one reason young families choose to move to any community is the excellent schools provided for their children.”

Are you saying you wouldn’t consider any TIFs? “Certainly not.” Roach replied,

“I would do targeted TIFs. For example, the TIF district established for the McKendree Rec-Plex was a no-brainer. There was already a developer with a great business plan. On the other hand, the Rasp Farm TIF on South Lincoln has gone nowhere. That TIF is about to expire and the land still sits empty. The Downtown TIF, which includes Southview Plaza, is a work in progress. That will be my number one economic development priority as mayor. We’ve got to get that ball rolling.”

Herb continued, “O’Fallon is an attractive area for new businesses with an interstate highway, Scott Air Force Base, soon to be 2 hospitals, 3 universities within 30 miles, good schools and good housing. O’Fallon is just 15 miles from St. Louis and centrally located to 5 major cities. We are a market ripe for the picking, but we don’t have to offer developers the shirt off our back to attract them to locate here.”

Smart Growth Planning ensures diverse, sustainable, development that always improves the economic security and quality of life for every resident of O’Fallon.

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