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On Sept. 25, Killingworth will hold a referendum on whether to purchase the 305-acre Venuti property on Route 148. This represents an opportunity few towns have to preserve a significant amount of open space.
There are many reasons why purchase of open space, as recommended in the Town Plan of Conservation and Development, is beneficial to the town. It preserves the rural-residential character of Killingworth. It provides the opportunity for further recreational activities in town, especially related to the lake. Most important, it prevents possible adverse development that could raise taxes.
One objection to the purchase is that it will increase taxes. Many studies have shown that open space actually stabilizes taxes because, if the property is developed, the taxes on residential properties do not cover the costs for increased services, especially education of children. Some think the price is too high, but whatever the price is, it is less than what the property will be worth in the future. Some have been concerned about the cost of maintaining the property. One only has to look at the Parmelee Farm, where almost everything is done by volunteers and there is very little cost to the town.
If the town doesn’t purchase this property, it may have little to say about what happens to it. Under zoning regulations, residential development and lot size are regulated to protect ground water supplies and the character of Killingworth. However, these regulations can be bypassed by the state affordable housing laws. There is the possibility of a predatory developer placing large numbers, perhaps hundreds, of houses on one-quarter-acre lots and the town would have nothing to say about it.
I encourage your readers to view the long-term benefits to the Town of Killingworth and to support the purchase.
Thomas L. Lentz
Thomas L. Lentz chairs the Planning & Zoning Commission.
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