I rank residential and commercial development very high in the efforts to keep a healthy and vibrant economy in Lewisville both now and in the future. Having served on our Planning and Zoning Board, I can tell you that last year saw a noticeable increase in requests for all manner of construction permits over the year before. There has been a distinct upward trend in 2011 from the previous year for all categories. We are clearly doing something right when it comes to attracting new business.
To encourage controlled quality development, I have been an outspoken proponent of upgrading our current zoning structures to adopted greater incorporation of Specific Use Permits (SUPs) and adopt form-based zoning with sustainable construction. By contrast, my opponent has made no previous comment to indicate he is aware of or has any understanding of this formula to move Lewisville forward. I will continue to drive for these revisions and improvements to update our old zoning system and create the setting for economic development and growth.
Regarding economic development, a recent local NBC5-TV story noted that Lewisville’s Old Town Investment has paid off. The report went on to state that our City had provided money to businesses to revamp the area, and that property values have since more than tripled from when the grant program began in 2004.
“When we started, the value in the downtown area was $67 million” Nika Reinecke, Lewisville’s Director of Development and Planning said. “We are now at about $260 million [property value].” Ms. Reinecke said Lewisville wanted to restore its historic downtown and make it a destination spot. That façade grant program has provided $400,000 to business owners – an amount that has since been recouped in city property taxes many times over.
Clearly the return on investment has been huge, and seasoned business managers know that this is the key number to look at. Improving areas like Old Town not only repays in property tax collections, but invariably leads to other privately-funded improvements and continued rise in property values. And that creates new businesses that inject additional money into the local economy. The payback to our City is manifold.
In direct contrast, my opponent was quoted in the Lewisville Leader saying “I want to encourage companies to come to Lewisville, but I don’t want our City to spend millions to development itself. There seems to be a lot of city-based development. If elected, I will do what I can to stop some future projects . . . .”
This is a continuance of my opponent’s “don’t spend” approach to city finance that is blind to the realities of smart business investing for the long-term financial benefit of our City. Look at the success that investment has brought to Old Town, and you can quickly see that sitting on money and thinking our City should avoid development is not leadership. It is not even smart. It is simply taking no action, hoping for the best, but showing no leadership to achieve it.
I don’t advocate throwing money at every opportunity. But when the return on investment presents a rational, solid and positive case, it is foolish to miss a productive business opportunity due to a single-minded passive approach to financial matters. As with our AAA bond rating, it is a matter of using money wisely, rather than not using it at all, that will bring about economic development and growth and provide long-term fiscal health for Lewisville.
That is the real definition of being fiscally responsible, and I am the one candidate who clearly understands how to accomplish it. This is the same philosophy that propels corporations: sow wisely, reap bountifully; sow nothing, reap nothing. Only one candidate clearly understands how to make this happen.
I am that one candidate.