A classic opportunity to send a message
June 21, 2001
Members of the Meridian Planning Commission have a classic opportunity to send a new message to residential developers. In one word, the message should be:
The commission is considering a proposal designed to encourage new residential development inside city limits. A vote may come at a commission meeting next week.
Housing is basic to Meridian's needs. Such development and the long-term growth and community stability it brings is long overdue.
In other Mississippi cities, building new homes inside city limits is a bustling business, drawing in new residents who, in turn, work, buy the homes, pay taxes and send their children to city schools. It should be the same here.
A central question seems to involve incentives that may be offered to developers. In the world of economic development, incentives are a fact of life. The state of Mississippi, for example, attracted the Nissan plant in Madison County because of incentives. The plant could have gone most anywhere.
Alabama attracted Mercedes and Honda because of incentives.
When building new homes is viewed as what it is economic development it makes perfect sense for the city to provide water and sewer infrastructure, much as it has done and will do for industrial parks. Such services to a new subdivision is no different than the city providing such services to any other major economic development project.
In some cities, this is called a partnership. In Meridian, it could also be a way of expanding the tax base and reversing the declining population.
Planning commission members say they are revisiting the proposal, which they summarily rejected a few weeks ago. It would be helpful to this community if they would get with the program, approve the incentives package and forward it on to the city council, where positive action should also be taken.
If Meridian is to grow, it must tear down old barriers and build new partnerships.