What is Responsible Development
- Development that is economically and environmentally sustainable over time.
- Development that helps to diversify the local economy.
- Development that promotes vibrant communities, preserves the landscapes we love and is cost-effective to taxpayers.
- A development process that is fair, accessible and transparent.
Access to Expert Advice
For the development process to be fair, decisions makers must have access to good information. Our Zoning Board and Planning Commission need to base their decisions in good scientific advice. Applicants before these two boards often have multiple experts, engineers, lawyers, and professional planners working for them. Although these experts may be professionals, their interest lies with the applicants, not with the Town. Often important information is omitted, or opinion is presented as fact. The members of these boards are volunteers and cannot be expert in every possible field. Expert advisors for the Town do not have to be an expense for the taxpayers. Most towns require that the applicant pay for an objective, unbiased expert. We believe that when the experts are working for all the people of the town, that we will see much better development proposals once developers recognize that their applications will be judged on the strength of the application rather than the persuasive talents of their presenters.
Working in the Town’s Interest
Doing the right thing, which means working in the interest of the town rather than for a few individuals, ought to be expected of our town officials and staff. Doing the right thing should not be punished with threats and harassment.
It is of great importance that volunteers who sit on the Zoning Board and Planning Commission are free of political pressure or other influence. The decisions they make effect our environment, our tax rate and the quality of our lives. The future of our town depends on them making the right decisions and they need to make those decisions based on the facts not fear of retribution.
What are the Costs and Benefits of Development?
We’ve prepared a “Cost of Development Calculator” to estimate the costs of new subdivisions, but also to look at our existing neighborhoods. Our seasonal neighborhoods are Charlestown’s tax base. They pay taxes, but ask for little in services. Increasing the number of year round homes in the northern parts of town is bound to raise the tax burden we must all pay. Long range plans about development and conservation should take these tax impacts into account.