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Preserving Land Is Good Fiscal & Ecological Policy. Let’s do it.

The fiscal reasons for preserving land instead of allowing it to be developed are compelling. The fear of lost tax revenue on preserved open-space makes little sense when the math is done on the effects to the town. Let’s assume 5 houses could be built on the 49 acres in West Groton. Each home would likely have 1.9 children under 18 years of age (2018 U.S. Census Bureau) who would probably wind up in our school system. The cost of a student in the Groton school system is around $15,000 per child (2017 MA Dept of Elementary and Secondary education) - $15,000 x 9 children = $135,000 annually. The 5 homes might be assessed at $400,000, each bringing in around $8,000 per home in taxes or $40,000 total per year. Subtracting the $9,000 currently paid in taxes on the land we still have a $86,000 shortfall in town cash flow annually.
     There would be additional cost for police, fire, and road maintenance should the property be developed. Now let’s look at the upside of land preservation. By removing developable land from the available property in Groton, all other developable land becomes more valuable. By preserving open space permanently for recreation, Groton becomes a more desirable place to live for all of us.
     If this particular property’s preservation were to actually cost Groton money I would still argue that it is well worth it, but the only cost to Groton might be in providing an appraisal. Preserving land makes sense from both a fiscal and ecological point of view. Let’s do it.
 
Alan Donald
Groton
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