To Infill or Not To Infill

Well, that’s never really been the question as far as I’m concerned. The important question relates to the cost of infill development…building that occurs on isolated pockets of empty land within existing communities or as a result of redevelopment of older properties.

A recent AZCentral article talks about the housing boom-and-bust relative to infill development. In the article the editors praise the state’s  initiative (credited to Mesa Mayor Scott Smith) to reduce or eliminate “impact fees” that are supposed to pay for infrastructure needed to support such development.

It is a well-known fact that development doesn’t pay for itself, even WITH impact fees. The costs to the community of new development with little or no impact fees will fall entirely on the residents who ALREADY live here. Public safety and municipal services like water and waste water treatment will cost more for all of us as we pay to service these new developments and spread our resources even thinner.

To add insult to injury, the state recently passed a scheme called “Infill Incentive Districts,” which Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the Chamber of Commerce embraced wholeheartedly in approving Scottsdale’s “Downtown Infill Incentive District” to provide greater height and density to developers of projects like Gray Development’s Blue Sky.

I believe that the Downtown Infill Incentive District approved by the Scottsdale City Council was done so erroneously and that the area doesn’t meet the criteria laid out in the state statue. It was an accommodation to a few large developers, and without consideration for its consequences.

Infill is good if it is done in context within the context of, and respectful of the existing community. Scottsdale’s DIID is neither.

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