Editorial Lacks Clarity
To the Editor:
Your May 30 editorial titled “The Borough Battle” provides little clarity and reports virtually no research before suggesting the Borough of Newtown is no longer useful. Rather than facts and numbers, the editorial is based on innuendo, weak sarcasm, and the input of some property owners who wish to be relieved of the borough tax burden.
The Borough is indeed an additional tax for homes and businesses within it, but your reporting should note that tax is a small fraction of the size of our town property taxes and the mill rate has been stable. For most, it’s a few hundred dollars per year, significantly less than the out-of-pocket yearly costs of Halloween on Main Street.
At the heart of the borough dispute is a surplus balance, which could be used to defend against civil litigation in the event the owners of the former Newtown Inn are denied zoning approval and building permits for condos or apartments. As long-time residents who have spent considerable time, effort, and money to maintain the historic beauty of our small piece of Main Street, we are deeply concerned about the long-term effects of multi-family housing on this neighborhood and strongly support this use of the surplus. This street could very easily and very quickly experience a domino effect whereby any home on a large lot is sold for tear down and multi-family development. Disbanding the borough, along with its enhanced regulatory structure (Borough Zoning and the Historic District Commission), would also swiftly open Main Street to rezoning pressure for commercial uses. That would surely create a cycle of downward pressure on home values in adjacent neighborhoods and diminish the quality of life of those who live in them. The Borough of Newtown is all that stands between those pressures and the neighborhood families. The modest budget and tax proposed by the volunteers who serve on the Board of Burgesses is fair.
Good people who care deeply for this community can disagree on the best allocation of borough tax dollars and on the best strategy to maintain the character of the neighborhood. But before The Bee further encourages an end to the Borough of Newtown, engage in some real journalism. Where are the other boroughs in Connecticut? What happened to communities before and after their boroughs were disbanded?
Karen Boyle and Mark Poirier
53 Main Street, Newtown June 3, 2019
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