The currently proposed Conservation Subdivision Ordinance (CSO) ironically will accelerate destruction of Milton’s rural character. The reason is that the CSO would make land with little or no development potential (there is actually quite a lot) suddenly much more attractive to developers.
The Milton Herald’s article on Lahkapani finally allowed me to connect the dots on this issue. To his frustration, the owner of Lahkapani’s 200+ acres has been unable to attract developers. According to him, the topography of his land, which makes it so beautiful, also makes the land “garbage” to developers under current zoning laws. Developers cannot construct enough houses on the land to make it worth their while to develop. However, the CSO would allow 254 to 350 homes on the property, according to Milton’s Community Development Coordinator.
And therein lies the irony: the CSO will actually accelerate development and urbanization in Milton with all the attendant issues, such as more traffic congestion and pollution—just the opposite of CSO’s stated intent. Adding to the irony, most developers with land valuable under current AG-1 zoning likely will continue business as usual. The CSO involves too much cost and complexity for them; it is much easier to continue to plop homes on clear-cut, one-acre lots.
Readers might be surprised that I am actually a strong advocate of property rights. However, honest and competent government is even more important to me. The CSO seems just one more case of City Council dispensing favors to rent-seeking special interests. Unfortunately, the whole debate over the CSO has given council the cover it needs (yet more irony) to accelerate development in Milton. Citizens of Milton, it is time to connect the dots and to oppose the CSO.