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Editorial Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 16, 2009

Think outside the box

The community of New Scotland has become divided since a developer proposed building a large retail center with a big-box anchor store at the old Bender melon farm. One thing everyone can agree on, though, is that residential development creates a huge tax burden.

Farmland creates a fiscal surplus that offsets the shortfall made by residential demand for public services like schools or sewer and water systems. Commercial enterprises fall between the two.

About 43 percent of New Scotland’s land is zoned for housing and related uses. What’s needed is more agricultural activity and more commercial development.

When New Scotland residents were polled in the early part of this decade about what kind of commercial development they would like to see in town, they said they would prefer restaurants, professional offices, and banks and personal services — in that order.

It makes sense to put these amenities near residential areas, so people can walk to them. That would also preserve the outlying open space that residents so value while giving farms a chance to flourish.

On July 2, we ran a large map of the village of Voorheesville, the most densely populated place in the town of New Scotland, with a star smack in the middle. The star marked an undeveloped 23-acre parcel where a cluster development of residences — 18 new housing units — is being planned.

While we applaud the concept of clustering because it leaves open space rather than cookie-cutter suburban development so popular late in the last century, we urge the village to take another look.

The property is now zoned residential. But wouldn’t this make an ideal site for combining commercial and residential development? Municipal water and roads are already in place. And such development would reduce rather than add to the tax  burden. But, just as importantly, it would allow village residents easy access to services they desire.

A valuable addition to the entire town, a commercial center in an already developed area, if done properly, would be a sought after and valued attraction.

In these times, when many large retail centers are floundering, we all need to, quite literally, think outside the box.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer, editor

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