Expanding Victor Impact Area
Decision Makers: Victor City Council
Topic: Expanding Victor Impact Area
Victor City Council
32 Elm Street
P.O. Box 122
Victor, ID 83455
To the Members of the Victor City Council,
I am writing on behalf of Valley Advocates for Responsible Development (VARD) regarding the cityﾒs proposal to expand Victorﾒs impact area. The planning and zoning commission and the city council have all spent a lot of time weighing the pros and the cons surrounding the expansion and it is great to see so much effort go into a decision of this importance. But I am concerned that some of the effects of this expanded impact area havenﾒt been fully considered. While an expanded impact area allows for more comprehensive zoning around the city, it comes with some complicated and weighty costs.
There are many effects of growth. One immediate effect is an increased demand on the cityﾒs sewer and water systems. By expanding the impact area, the City will have greater control over sewer and water demands arising from new developments and will be able to plan accordingly, and even receive impact and connection fees as well as infrastructure upgrades from willing developers. But there are many, many more side effects of growth. To name a few: there will be more school-age residents; does Victor have the appropriate school capacity? Using the national average of 9 vehicle trips per household per day, there could potentially be thousands more cars on our city roads; does Victor have the appropriate maintenance budget, or the proper street network? There will be more waste generated; our landfill is at capacity much sooner than anyone anticipated, will we be able to accommodate all this extra waste?
Since the impact area is in a sense the ﾓfirst draftﾔ of future growth, by stretching the boundary of the impact area so far to the North and West, the city is taking the first step towards large scale development in these directions. Instead of tightening the borders of the city and creating a true and starkly defined city limit, the expanded impact area will set the stage for widely spread developments that are too far from the city core to really feel like an integrated part of the city. Examples already exist, and include The Settlement, The Ponds, and Bighole Meadows.
When the EPA Smartgrowth group came to Victor, it emphasized compact, mixed-use development downtown. By allowing 1.5 acre lots as far away as four miles from the center of town the city council is not encouraging compact, downtown development. If there is a concern about affordable lots, then perhaps there is a shortage of lots downtown where growth is most desirable. One way to encourage more development in the city core is to allow denser zoning in the center of town and strictly limit the densities proportional to their distance from the town center.
One benefit of incorporating more developments into the city limits is the impact fees and connection fees that development generates. But in every study conducted on the costs incurred to cities by development, residential development proves to be more of a financial burden than an asset. While commercial development only costs a city $0.37 for every dollar the city receives, residential development costs the city $1.16 for every dollar it receives . Put another way, the city loses sixteen cents on every dollar it generates in revenue. Expanding the impact area will quite probably cost the city more money than it will generate.
It is wise and beneficial for the city of Victor to be involved with development surrounding the current city limits. But if this expanded impact area is adopted, the city will have a new burden of responsibility to hold fast to the intentions stated in the comprehensive plan. The cityﾒs decision makers will be confronted with numerous expansion and annexation proposals that could threaten the quality of life that Victor residents currently enjoy. With a broader impact area comes a greater need to strictly adhere to the wishes of the entire community.
We are in a very narrow window of time when tough zoning decisions can actually determine what is developed on the ground. While growth is inevitable, Victorﾒs city council is in the position to guide growth as it sees fit. Growth does not have to guide the city council. The city faces serious concerns regarding infrastructure costs in the near future. New developments may be able to help pay for some of these costs. But past experiences all across the country have shown that new, incongruous, residential development costs more money than it generates. At this time, given Victorﾒs current size, expanding the impact area is not the most prudent course of action.
Thank you for your consideration.