Quirky things our government officials try to pass on to us

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Hotwings, Nov 15, 2008.

  1. Hotwings

    Hotwings Songster

    Jan 27, 2007
    southwestern Michigan
    I have a rant about my city officials trying to pass a $575,000.00 extended bike path on us. It seems to city has nothing better to do than try and force Sears dept store to sell their property to them for a bike path! They are even going as far as to force Sears to sell by claiming enemient domain on them! I am all for having a nice place to ride your bike but I guess the city doesn't know about the ecomonic crisis we are in! I mean my property taxes have already gone up a $100.00 from last year due the passing of the school's improvement bills, but that at least was due to a public voting proposal. I can't afford to pay more money that I don't have on something foolish as this one. The city has said that $200,000.00 of this would come from the state infrstructure! Michigan is already in dire straits as it is! The government is all in a uproar because of the failing auto industry, something us people here in Michigan have been aware of for years ago! Has anyone in their city or state tried to pass stupid and unreasonable proposals?
  2. Laskaland

    Laskaland ThE gRoOvY cHiCkEn

    Aug 2, 2008
    I could see this maybe in, ohhh TEXAS where they have probably 11 months a year that the path would be used, by Michigan?!?! Hello COOOOOOOLLLLD SNOOOOOOOOWW..
    Time to write a letter, friend. Call the neighbors too.
  3. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    Our local gov't is fond of letting developers build monster McMansion developments ON nature preserve land and protected wetland. Then the McMansions, which are priced way above what the market can handle, sit on the real estate market for years and years, driving down everybody else's value. Plus, our houses lose more value because instead of the original glorious view of natural woodlands and ponds, they now have a lovely chain-link fence and dead grass in the backyard, as developers build houses but don't bother maintaining them. Nor do they let us get our properties re-assessed in light of the market issues. Nor are they interested in our petty concerns, such as how the runoff from newly-developed land screws up everyone else's septic systems or how the new traffic on narrow back roads causes accidents and near-misses regularly, or how ugly the things are compared to the rest of the neighborhood.

    The latest tactic is to allow condo-type developments go up, and allocating some percentage to low income housing. Yes, put high crime slumlord condos directly next to a day care. [​IMG] When we pointed out that low income folks need houses that are both cheap AND economical to run, i.e. energy-efficient appliances, extra insulation, LEED buildings, built for quality because working class people can't afford constant repairs, and that the developer's proposal was none of those things, they told us we were being a bunch of NIMBYs.
  4. the1much

    the1much Currently Birdless Hippy

    Quote:not that many bikers here,, is too hot,,, maine has WAY more bikers then texas,, in fact, half of acadia national park is for bikes,, and it is FULL all summer,, so climate shouldnt be an issue.
    waste of money when times are hard is pretty stupid tho,,, even tho it isnt a "waste" cause it is the "green" thing to do,, but in the money crunch time, isnt the time to do it. and BOUT TIME a city or state took land from a big company !! ,, its almost ALWAYS the other way around. they should just wait till the "hard times" stop,,,,, BUT at least its going to things the public can use,, and not the city officials retirement fund [​IMG]
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I'm a Civil Engineer and work in public works design. I can tell you with certainty that the scenario isn't as idiotic as you point out. Then again, I've been fooled before.

    Generally, each state gets a huge chunk of money each year from the federal government for roadway/infrastructure. There are all kinds of stings attached. Certain portions must go towards multimodal use (like putting bike paths on existing roads), public transit, non-motorized use (like bike paths), etc. So basically, your local agency (county or City) applied for a grant to get money, which is free to the agency as long as they use it within the time frame and for the intended purpose. So, what is dumber? Turning down $400,000 in free money, or getting the most for the buck?

    The overall strategy in roadway design is to divert people from relying solely on passenger cars for mobility. A simple shift in 5% of the population not driving is equivelant to widening every freeway in your state by several lanes. It's money wisely spent, rather than vast expansion of travel lanes. We also live in a nation of obesity, largely due to the fact everyone drives everywhere. When you look at extended costs to society, such as insurance payments due to traffic accidents, long term medical care for obese diabetics with kidney failure, etc. we pay millions, if not billions, for our car addiction.

    In our state, a % of the gasoline tax (you pay both a federal and state gas tax) must go towards non-motorized projects, with 'drives' the automobile advocates crazy. I love to watch them red in the face. If you don't like it, get elected and chane it. I don't care either way if I'm designing a road or a bikepath, they're both good things to have.

    Regarding imminent domain, this is standard operation procedure. Basically, your agency wanted the land to do this bikepath. Sears thinks the land is worth a billion dollars, your government thousands. This is simple condemnation where a judge determines the $/SF ammount to be paid to Sears, based upon multiple appraissals and prevailing property rates.
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:There isn't a government agency ANYWHERE that does not lose money on people and residential tax rates. We're all subsidized by the business taxation. It blows me away to this day that local agencies permit overly dense residential development under the auspices of 'economic developlment'. It really isn't, it's the oppossite. But, generally you find your planning commission members being the owners of hte lumber yard and other crap like that.

    Everyone at my company is LEED accredited, by the way. :0
  7. Rosalind

    Rosalind Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    greyfields, their reasoning is that if we have some pre-determined amount of low income housing, we will receive some special tax status from the state that will deal with the losses you mention.

    Actually, now that I think about it, we just may be the exception that proves your rule. There is virtually NO business here. I will list the grand total of actual private businesses in my town:

    -exactly five sit-down restaurants
    -three gas stations
    -two small boutique grocery markets mainly stocked with overpriced jam
    -one upscale butcher shop
    -one auto repair shop
    -a hair salon/spa type of place
    -two greenhouses
    -two ice cream stands
    -a private school

    However, there are several LARGE mansions on the other side of town. This is a bedroom community for folks who bring in the big $$$ in Boston, so they most likely pay hundreds of thousands in property taxes. I know I'm shelling out $5600/year and I live in the "crummy" part of town, where people merely drive Subarus and elderly Volvos instead of Bentleys.
  8. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    :lol:The low income housing issues is a matter of federal law and HUD. Communities receiving grants or other federal funding must demonstrate the % of low income housing in the community in comparision to the average and mean housing prices. It's under the auspices of "Social Justice" or more often "Environmental Justice". They don't want minorities "priced out" of communities like the gated kinds, or very wealthy ones.

    So, the local agency is often required to create low income housing in order to receive other federal benefits. Of course, your agency could say "no"; but then you'd actually have to pay your cost to society without federal grants. You don't even want to know what that would do to your property tax!

    The downside of these HUD issues is the issue of finding willing sellers for any created residential. As soon as the government comes knocking, eveyone thinks they have bottomless pockets and suddenly their "Property Rights" become very expensive. That's why we so often end up with emminent domain cases in the courts. Joe A. Homeowner thinks his property is worth $10,000 per SF, while the appraissals say $1,000. If no negotiatied settlement is reached, then it's determined by a court. Settlements are often not reached because the federal and also all state governments are required by law to pay the appraissed value for property (with a 10% leeway upward), they simply cannot pay more, unless ordered so by a condemnation judge.

    That's why we have all these seemingly outrageous emminent domain cases in the US right now. Unreasonable property owners won't reach a negotiated settlement, so it ends up in the courts. But, just imagine the other way around? You would have sleazy commissioners persuaded your public works departments to pay their buddies $10,000 per SF instead of $1,000 per SF for the sake of 'expediency'.

    I won't even begin to say wether I agree or disagree with this whole thing. I'll just say it's confusing, convoluted; but you must learn how to navigate the system if you want to get projects done. It's federal law, which each state, county and city must comply with if you want roadway, housing and other grant funding. If you don't like it, get elected and change it. I sure know I won't, because 15 years into my career and I barely understand it. I don't want to start over.
  9. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    That's ok. It's illegal to swim on dry land in Santa Ana, CA.
  10. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    Nashville is trying to use eminent domain to take away a local lady's business in order to sell the land to a private developer. The lady has a building that houses a record business she and her husband started eons ago. He has since died and she is now running the business. The facility isn't much to look at, but it is well maintained and in constant use. The city tried to buy the land, but she didn't want to sell. The developer tried to buy the land and she still didn't want to sell. They are wanting to put some ginormous high rise complex in and her property is right in the middle of it all. The city finally threatened and tried to condemn her property so they could seize it to then sell to the developer. It, of course, all went to court and is being hashed out there. Somewhere along the way it was leaked to the press. The lady has had TONS of support from the community. Apparently it's only the city planners and commissioners that want the big building to go in. [​IMG]

    I understand the need for eminent domain, but I also think that it is out of control. The government should not have the right to take away privately owned land unless it is to build roads, schools or hospitals. To buy the land and then turn it over to another privately owned company is just wrong. Let the privately owned business figure out how to acquire it fairly or let them figure out a plan B.
    Just my 2 cents...

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