Guest Column: Balanced growth is important to city’s future

Nov. 29, 2012 @ 10:46 PM

The cautionary position taken in the Enterprise editorial (Our View, Nov. 25, “Should city look inward, instead?”) regarding the expansion of the city to I-40 through the annexation of property bordering Sandy Ridge Road implied that the city’s investment in infrastructure should be directed solely to re-development of the inner city. I believe, and history suggests, that such a restricted growth policy could have unintended consequences. A balanced approach to growth that embraces both existing stock and greenfield options are important for High Point’s future.
Where would High Point be if the Oak Hollow annexation had not become effective in the early 1980s? The city limits line would be at Oak Hollow dam on Eastchester. There would be no Piedmont Centre (which developed because the water and sewer extensions that were part of the Oak Hollow annexation). There would be no Wendover Landing or Palladium area; no residential growth like Blairwood or other subdivisions off Johnson Street and Skeet Club. High Point’s population would not be 107,000+ nor would the tax base value of JUST Piedmont Centre (current value $378,715,600 in land and buildings) be part of the city’s annual revenue from property taxes.
The Oak Hollow annexation occurred for two important reasons: the city needed to include the urbanized growth that had occurred (Oakview Estates and Oak Hollow Estates) both for tax base and, more importantly, for population. There are still folks who remember the lament that High Point had no middle class. It was mainly mill/factory owners and mill/factory workers. That opinion was buttressed by the reality that the High Point industrial base was predominately hosiery and furniture.
Fortunately, with the opportunity for industrial growth in the northern part of the city and the realization that we needed to diversify our industrial base, High Point became an active player in regional economic development. The residential growth in that area increased rapidly creating demand for commercial/retail development. This expanded tax base has been key to rebuilding infrastructure over the past 12 years.
But, it’s important to understand that to some degree inner city reinvestment is dependent on tax base expansion. Additionally, an investor chooses his location based on his need not some rigid municipal policy. We need to offer choices.
What I ask you to consider is the reality that a city that does not promote and invest in multiple growth strategies will wither. I don’t want that and you don’t want that either. The Sandy Ridge annexation and required investments will help provide, like Piedmont Centre has, growth in the tax base and job opportunities for our citizens.

Rebecca Smothers is mayor of High Point.

YOUR VIEW POLLS

High Point City Council gave tentative approval to a plan to develop a business park north of the city that would obligate $13 million in taxpayer dollars as part of the deal. What do you think of this? In 30 words or less (no name, address required), email us your thoughts to letterbox@hpe.com. Here are three responses:
• Why north High Point? South High Point is full of large, empty manufacturing sites fully equipped with water, sewer, electricity, roads, many of them close together, also close to I-85.
• $13 million taxpayer dollars – crazy. There is property that has been on market 20 years, empty business buildings all over High Point; crazy thinking on City Council’s part.
• When we add the incentives to the tenants, all for the benefit of the developers, what will be the final cost, and resultant tax increase to pay for it?