Planning For No Growth, Higher Costs


By Jon A. Brake

We have joked many times about the City of Manhattan becoming Boulder East. Want to know why?

About thirty-years ago the City of Boulder, Colorado approved a no-growth policy. The City could see that urban sprawl from Denver would someday takeover the City of Boulder. The City purchased a green belt around Boulder and all new construction stopped.

In 1967 the citizens of Boulder approved a four-tenths-of-a-cent permanent sales tax for the acquisition, maintenance, preservation and utilization of open space.

Today the City of Boulder owns 30,000 acres of land. That is more that 46 square miles. On an average, $17 million comes in annually. Of that $10 million pays for past purchases. The City still owes $60 million dollars for land purchased and has paid about $150 million and that does not include interest.

It worked; Denver did not develop to the outskirts of Boulder. But Boulder could not develop either. The City was locked in by their "green space." With no new homes being built cost of existing houses skyrocketed. The policy drove the prices of homes to record highs. Each time a house sold it set a new high.

What did they get?

"Preservation of land for passive recreational uses - Hiking, photography, biking, horseback riding, jogging, running - all the things our citizens love to do." Jim Crain Boulder’s Director of Open Space and Real Estate, from fall 2000 Boulder Magazine.

What about Manhattan?

Many in the City of Manhattan like the policies approved by Boulder. The idea of green space, trails, trees, wildlife are appealing.

In Manhattan the changes are being called for in the name of the poor but most doing the calling will have nothing to do with the poor.

Some want to purchase "green space" around the City to stop urban sprawl. Others want to stop new construction in the older neighborhoods. Not only do they want these things they are holding meetings on how to get their way.

How will it work?

Simple, you organize and you put your people in powerful positions. You appoint your people to City Boards and "Steering Committees." And you get ready for the drafting of the next Manhattan Land Use Plan. This is the document that the City staff will use for the next ten to fifteen years for developing Manhattan.

It has already started:

For the past four years people with the "Boulder" mind set have been appointed to all of the major City boards. Boards which will do the planning and the approving of zoning and new construction.

Older neighborhoods have formed organizations, which have stopped the building of 12-plexes and apartment complexes close to Kansas State University. There has been no new construction North of Bluemont since 1996.

Tuesday night the City Commission approved a change, which will require large duplexes to go before the Zoning Board. With a packed Zoning Board duplexes will be nonexistent.

Older homes in the downtown area are being named to the Kansas Historical list. This act will stop all construction and remodeling within 500 feet. Put 20 to 30 homes on the Historical list and you will stop all building in older Manhattan.

If all new construction is stopped the value of homes in Manhattan will go up at an alarming rate. With the rise in housing cost will be the rise in assessed valuation and higher taxes.

Drafting of the next Manhattan Land Use Plan is critical. A fair and balanced plan must be approved. Everyone needs to be informed. Your participation will be needed.