In my time in public service, I have always sought to act and vote in the best interests of the citizens and taxpayers of the Township, regardless of whether or not they supported me. I will continue that same policy with my vote tonight.
I have studied the Oregon Village project, listened to the testimony, and reviewed all the transcripts. I have listened to the developers, to the neighbors most impacted by this proposal, and to the residents of Manheim Township. I have heard the pros and cons-- from the Chamber of Commerce and the editors of LNP. I have listened to supporters of smart growth, including former members of this board for whom I have great respect.
I believe in the concept of smart growth, so the question for me is whether this project is a smart plan and a smart location. I do not believe that it is.
It’s not smart to approve this project without a wise plan to manage traffic. The traffic plan provided for this project is five years old and fails to meet our standards for timeliness. It harms surrounding small businesses that will now be bypassed through a rotary. It forces pedestrians, bikers, and buggies to cross six lanes. It also fails to plan for increased traffic on surrounding roads.
It’s not smart to go forward when the developers will not tell us the size of the proposed residences. When we asked during testimony about the size of the various apartments, they told us that they did not know. Without this information, we won’t be able to responsibly estimate the size of growth.
During testimony we were told that there would be no or only minor additional costs incurred for public safety. However, with a project of this magnitude, it is only logical that more police and fire personnel will be required to keep the community safe. Our partners on the school board also can’t plan whether they’ll need more classrooms without accurate data. The project will likely create a need for tax increases down the road.
Finally, it’s not smart to build this at the expense of our Amish neighbors who will face potential negative impacts on their income and difficulties attending school or religious services. This project could force the fabric of our community out of our community.
It is clear to me now that that this project, in its current form, will have a substantial adverse effect on traffic, our schools, public safety, and the character of Manheim Township. That's why I will vote no tonight.