MPS meeting

Suppose you’all have been waiting breathlessly for our take on the meeting on the MPS draft last night so here it is for what it is worth.

First: There was a petition you could sign before you went if you didn’t want the R1 zone eliminated. Some signed before, some after the meeting. If you ask around you can probably find it and add your name to it.

Second: Full house. Think that was due to the scary flyer [“Property values at risk”] in the post office rather than the milquetoast mailout from the Town. When asked why so few of the controversial details had been left off the Town’s version the deputy mayor said that they wanted to keep it short and “get people out” to the meeting where more details could be given. The Town should have mentioned the most contentious details themselves if they wanted to get people out.

Third: Presentation – glossy, lots of maps, which were also in large versions on the walls. Also lots of carefully chosen and sterile pictures of Wolfville (very few people in any of the pics we noted which we thought a Freudian slip. Are they thinking of people and how they like to live?). We didn’t count the number of times sustainable or sustainability was mentioned but it was frequent. They did get a few compliments on it; some people are easily impressed by power points. Nothing much new in it for us except we found out the contract planner’s father lived in Wolfville which she mentioned presumably to assure us she cares about the Town. Oh, yes, and that they project that the town might, just maybe, double in population in about 50 years based on the present LUB and they could squeeze a few more thousand into that growth by the density changes they proposed.

Lastly: Question and commentary period.

The push for growth that one resident thought was implied by the presentation was questioned. Why concentrate on growth and development? Why not concentrate on quality of life. This was mentioned later by other residents as well.

One very interesting comment came from some guy who lived in an R1 zone, has a PHD in Ecology and international experience in sustainability issues, and had been asked to sit on the Sustainability Task Force early on but then was never called again after he said yes. He said he had gone around and talked to about 140 people in the R1 zone and not one had been consulted by the Town and every single one of them wanted it retained and passionately so. He also said that he was fully aware that the term sustainability was “used and abused” all over the place.

Another comment came from a young woman who said she lived in the town as a student and stayed in town afterward and was raising a family here in spite of the extra expense (higher cost of housing and higher taxes) and she wanted to continue to live in a R1 zone not in a higher density zone with all the student “rowdies”, which kind of squashed the Town’s argument that eliminating R1 would attract more young families.

The Town in their responses often mentioned affordability which prompted several in the gallery to mention that lower taxes would help on that score. One man even asked the deputy mayor directly why taxes in Wolfville were so high. Bob wormed his way out of that one by responding that towns have a higher burden of expense than the county- which doesn’t of course answer why taxes are higher here than in other towns around.

There was the odd booster – at least one young guy (a student?) was certainly a plant as he gushed way too much- but our feeling was that most residents there were not really happy with the changes, especially the elimination of R1.

At 9:30 they closed it down, although we think there were more questions. Guess these over worked people don’t stay up very late.

We would be interested in your impressions if you attended.

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2 responses to “MPS meeting

  1. …the young guy ( student ) that gushed is Bailey Soussa’s ( of Railtown fame) brother a fourth year business student and promoter ( sales agent) for the Railtown property. I was at the meeting and a few things come to mind.
    1. Surely an increase in people would increase the use of fossil fuels i.e. gas from an increase in vehicular transport and/or heat from homes.
    2. Contrary to what Greg M. thinks more downtown units does not necessarily mean more business for merchants just because they are in walking distance. It is based on a faulty premise.
    3.Most of the folk in the theatre including myself will be dead in thity years. For everyone that dies someone will have to replace him/her just to keep the status quo of the existing Wolfville population. If a thousand residents die in the next 15 years we will need a thousand just to replace them never mind the added population the MPS envisions.
    4.The town has gotten itself into a catch 22 situation. Market it to the rich (seniors?) and you will attract rich (seniors) with expensive homes that drive up all our assessments. Market it to a younger generation ( as the Town is now trying to do out of desperation) has become an anthema to the well heeled who see this as an attempt to steal their precious jewel.
    5.Wolfville has been marketed as a retirement community and this is what it is destined to be. We may live and die by the vagaries of Acadia. At the current rate of population growth the brush will soon be rolling down Main st.

  2. We don’t think the Town will attract many rich retirees if they eliminate the R1 zone. And increasing density will not make properties more affordable, at least not sufficiently to compete with surrounding areas. Lower taxes would do that if they really cared.
    Driving up assessments is a policy of the Town. They have a staff member devoted to that. Just phone the Town and ask, they’ll tell you outright that they call the assessment office to have homes here reassessed- and without proper notification that they are behind it- upward of course.
    The changes envisioned-draped in sustainability sheep’s clothing- are for one reason only and that is to keep town coffers flush with tax money. Oh, we know they will tell you these moves are tax neutral but that is only under the present property tax system. They know what is coming down the pipe – they have been pushing for changes at other levels to get round the assessment cap . Just read Marilla Stephenson’s column in today’s CH and put two and two together.