In Sunday’s edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, an editorial board editorial appeared touting the benefits of cooperation through the regional entity known as NEOSCC,
The editorial, titled ‘Retreat from sprawl’, talks about ‘how the future of Northeast Ohio depends on regional cooperation’. It is natural to want to help one’s neighbors when they need it. It is a noble human trait. Americans are known for their willingness to help and are to be commended for that attitude. However, in this case the word cooperation is to be viewed with extreme caution.
Cooperation indicates one party is dominant over another, vs collaboration where entities work together, as they are willing and as they can afford. There are local collaborative efforts that are beneficial and these are to be commended.
NEOSCC is advocating cooperation masked as collaboration. Their VibrantNEO 2040 plan will require local authorities to become subservient to the plan in the name of the greater good. Many local communities paid thousands of dollars to develop their zoning codes and will now, under the NEOSCC plan be overlaying those codes with NEOSCC’s regionalism vision.
Townships are historically the least governed, most free type of government, but due to decades of eminent domain abuse, where neighboring cities have taken large swaths of land in neighboring townships to gain tax perks from businesses or to snag prime real estate, townships are in many cases forced to cooperate with their neighboring large cities under constant threat of annexation.
In the early 90’s, with the passage of the Springfield and Coventry-Akron JEDDS (Joint Economic Development Districts) history was made nationwide. It was the first time an agreement like this was ever attempted in the U.S. Under the original JEDD, the local township is supposed to receive water and sewer utilities extended into the township in exchange for income tax revenue from businesses that would locate in the JEDD, and from existing businesses there. The JEDD would insure that no further annexation took place.
When the JEDDs passed, those of us who recognized the regionalism element were demonized by this same paper and our local elected officials. We predicted the current trend towards regionalism and were called ‘anti-government, Oklahoma City Bomber mentality people’ by the Mayor of Akron and this same paper gleefully reported that quote. Now they are gleefully touting regionalism as the solution to decades of over-regulation and poor decisions by administrations across the board that have helped drive and keep businesses from our area. Businesses and residents have been voting with their feet. This NEOSCC plan will help bind their feet.
Under NEOSCC’s plan, those JEDD agreements will go by the wayside in the name of ‘growing smarter’. In the NEOSCC Plan, Section 1. states: ‘Focus new residential and commercial development on sites within established communities’. One of the initiatives in this plan is the suggestion of the implementation of a ‘land value tax’. This provision would tax vacant land much higher than land that has existing buildings and infrastructure, making it much harder to do anything with a vacant lot and discouraging new development of ANY kind. This tax money would then be redistributed to the inner cities to prop them up, using the NEOSCC APPOINTED BOARD as the overseer and leaving the taxpayers with no way to effectively challenge the decisions on where the money is spent.
It’s all about the money, folks. That and the taking of local control. It is obvious that NEOSCC’s governing principles outlined in their plan will make our local elected officials obsolete. It was the logical conclusion of the visioning sessions that this would be a primary objective. The events were intentionally hosted at sites where the promise of money pumped into the community could be made. The ‘Outer Ring Suburbs’ who will be stuck paying the bulk of the tab were left out of the planning process, having no events hosted in their locales.
Some questions to ask your township or small village/town officials that are promoting or thinking about promoting this plan:
*Why were no visioning sessions, open houses or presentations held in our community?
*Do you fully understand what is meant by a land value tax?
*What gives you the right to determine if I can sell my property for future development, when it is currently zoned for that or was until recently?
*Do you understand your role as our elected official and that you have no right to surrender your authority to a regional appointed entity?
*What is in it for them personally?
*Is an emphasis on bike paths a priority in our struggling economy?
*If the focus of the plan is on investment in existing communities, why the emphasis on creating so many conservation districts and easements?
*And probably most importantly: What gives you the right to pass value judgments about where you live, work or play?
If your elected officials advocate this plan, make them defend their position on it WITHOUT the assistance of an NEOSCC ‘salesclerk’ present. Force them to exercise their due diligence and ask them to pose one simple question after each of the plan’s initiatives: At what cost?
It is your job as a responsible citizen to defend your personal freedoms and under this plan the ‘cooperation’ NEOSCC is selling is most certainly a threat to that freedom.