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Intelligent economic development is important

Jan. 30, 2013

Public Forum:

Mequon is a unique community that features a multitude of land uses spread across its 47 square miles. Yet Mequon residents have always had a passion for protecting their quality of life and defending their community against the negative impacts of urbanization.

In the 1930s, the residents of Mequon created a zoning code to prevent speculators from building things they didn't want in locations where they didn't want them. They established the 1 acre minimum lot size to avoid the mess they observed occurring in Waukesha County. In 1957, the town incorporated as the city of Mequon to prevent Milwaukee from annexing and urbanizing their community.

In the 1980s, the economic and housing growth brought more speculation and urbanization pressure. Again the city defended itself, utilizing professional planning studies, visioning exercises, and a strengthened zoning code to positively manage this growth and intelligently grow the tax base. The results of this work confirmed what Mequon's ancestors always knew, that not all economic development provides a valuable boost to the city's tax base, but that low impact, low density development creates lasting value, reduces the demand for costly urban services and keeps taxes low. In essence, to intelligently grow the tax base, development must add more value than cost.

Unfortunately, today there are people in our community aggressively promoting "anything goes" high density urban development. While this will surely grow the tax base, it will grow costs even more, sacrificing our future prosperity and the quality of life we have worked so hard to create. Today's city leaders should respect and learn from our history, and maintain Mequon's tradition of intelligent economic development.

Dan Abendroth

1st District Alderman Mequon

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