Milton mulls future

The Town Board of Milton heard estimates of what the town could look like in the future at its Wednesday, May 28, meeting. Larry Woolbright, chairman of the Open Space Committee, appeared before the board to discuss the committee's newest findings of the town's build-out map.

A build-out map is a theoretical survey of how the town would look if every parcel was developed to the full extent the town's current zoning regulations allow.

In Woolbright's words, a build-out map is a useful way to look at a town's or municipality's growth potential.

According to the Open Space Committee, Milton has plenty of room to grow.

"The town currently has far fewer houses than it could have if everyone built what they could on their property," said Woolbright.

Milton currently has 3,561 residences and 272 apartments for a total of 3,833 living spaces. If "built out," however, Milton could contain 7,528 domiciles.

That's roughly double the current number, and the Open Space Committee assumes that the number of people residing in the town would also double.

The board previously asked the committee to study what impact such growth would have on the town's tax base, and Woolbright painted a grim picture Wednesday evening.

He said that the committee examined Cost of Community Service Studies, 83 of which are available nationwide. All 83 of those reports found that single-family homes cost more in services than they generate in taxes, at an average rate of $1.31 per dollar of tax generated. Much of this impact comes from a need for roads, infrastructure and the increased burden on schools.

The studies found the opposite for farms, forests and open spaces, however. Such areas cost 36 cents in services for every dollar in taxes.

The committee estimated that if the town lost 519 farm, forest or open space areas and added 3,135 single family residences, they would cost over $27.4 million in services and return just under $21 million in taxes.

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