Pay Close Attention When It Seems Slow

editorial-logo3Though December is usually a down month in Jefferson County, this year seems to be the exception. It seems that this is the month that those proposing questionable ventures come before the municipalities, hoping to slip by in the blur of holiday lights and good will to men. This is the second year that Dandridge has been brought the idea of low income housing and this time it is not one company, not even two companies… nope, it is three companies that are looking to place low income housing inside the City limits of Dandridge. Those that followed last year’s situation may remember that tax credit housing, or low income housing, has some rather strict time constraints, among other things, and the housing is not based on Dandridge (or even Jefferson County ) needs and the placement is dependent on THDA, not the developer. While I am not against affordable housing, it needs to be done with a lot of thought and preparation or it will change the face of the Town. Regardless of what those seeking to push through these endeavors will say, there are inherit risks with low income developments. It is unlikely that more than one of the three developers looking for tax credit, low income housing, will be approved because it is a very competitive grant. If Dandridge is seriously considering this type of venture, then they must consider what impact it could have on the community. The economic balance will certainly be impacted in the local schools. It will have impact on the local household income, which will influence real estate. One property is proposed for the old DandridgeElementary School, which sits in the downtown area. Merchants in this area have strived for years to create a walking, shopping district for tourists. I am not sure how a low income housing development is a part of that picture. One proposal is for a senior driven property and that does make more sense, given the demographics of the area, however I am interested in how many seniors would be from Jefferson County and how many would be placed from other areas. This is a decision that could impact County and School finances. Are we prepared for what could be an influx of school age students from other counties? Will we once again be faced with over crowded schools? While the companies will be tax payers, residents will not. Will the developer’s taxes off set the cost of services to several hundred citizens that will not pay taxes? A decision that is as far reaching as this one should be investigated and considered at length. Pros and Cons should be discussed and decision makers should not rely on the information provided by those that would benefit from these developments to make their decisions. Dandridge is a Town with a large senior population and relatively high per household income. I wonder what makes this Town so attractive to low income housing developers? I fear that the answer to that question would not be a compliment.

Source: K. Depew, Jefferson County Post News Director