continued One proposed way to fund this acquisition was to levy a dedicated property tax. Another was to borrow for the funds.
A committee would be formed to vet land investments.
Arguments for adopting the plan include that developed land ostensibly costs more in services than it generates in property taxes and that there are grant opportunities for preservation purposes.
Members of the audience were clearly divided on exactly how — or if — the town should invest in open space. It was reminiscent of the debate surrounding the town's bid to acquire the Normanside Country Club lands when they went up for auction earlier this year.
Some, then and now, said such purchases are shortsighted and irresponsible, especially during tough times. Jeremy Near, who is running for Town Board on the Republican line, went so far as to label the effort a “government land grab” that would actually reduce the tax rolls.
“People that own land will get taxed for the government to then purchase land, which to me doesn't make a whole lot of sense,” he said.
Ed Kleinke, who was part of the aforementioned meeting over the white paper, said it's landowners who are the best stewards of open space. The town has other, less costly mechanisms like proper planning and zoning to help it manage community character, he argued.
“I'm a little disappointed that what you're looking at tonight kind of leaves out large landowners,” he said.
But others saw such a program as a mechanism for investment in their town.
Resident Karen Shaw said she's willing to pay for the type of community she wants to live in, and reckoned that this program, if done right, could benefit everyone.
“I don't see anybody losing in the open space plan,” she said. “It's a complicated issue, and I respect that, but we all live here together.”