By Linette Matheny
St. Cloud is growing too fast.
I have been working with staff to find ways to slow down growth and force developers to pay for the additional demand they place on city services. As a first step, the City Council recently increased impact fees. This means developers have to pay additional money to the city for each new house they build. This decision was not without controversy, with most of the recent increases passing the council on a 3-2 vote. Kudos to Mayor Nathan Blackwell and Deputy Mayor Dave Askew for having the courage to join me in supporting this important step to rein in out of control growth. Developers and some politicians contend this will raise new home prices and make it more difficult to sell these houses. That may be true, but frankly we could do with a slower pace of growth and I believe new growth should help pay its fair share.
The council recently increased transportation, public safety and parks and recreation impact fees. These impact fee dollars will be used to offset the increased demand these new residents will put on our roads, police, fire and parks. This also means that we can maintain our quality of services without additional taxes on current residents. Protecting current residents from new taxes is of vital importance.
This is a good beginning, but I will continue to champion smart growth and will not be intimidated by developers and their allies. I am also looking at increasing architectural requirements to make sure new homes are of a higher more upscale quality. We also need to attract additional commercial activity to balance out residential growth with high value businesses. This fight won’t be easy, but I believe the taxpayers of St. Cloud are worth fighting for!
Linette Matheny is a St. Cloud city councilwoman.