EDITORIAL: Compromises needed for new housing

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Our homes are sacred.

We become comfortable with our surroundings, our neighbors and our neighborhoods after a while and those features are part of what makes a house a home. It's understandable to want to keep it that way.

But it should also be expected that new neighbors and houses happen, especially when city's such as Blair grow from an economic standpoint.

This year, complaints and concerns from neighbors have been made against potential housing developments and apartments targeted for their areas. Concerns have been raised about the cost of the units, the amount of the units and traffic generated from new citizens on streets that aren't quite ready for the increased cars.

These are all valid concerns and are definite considerations that need to be addressed before projects move forward.

And, in those cases, neighbors have offered solutions that would address those concerns. Recently, the Blair City Council tabled a conditional use permit that would allow a developer to construct 16, 1,200 square foot minimum duplexes in town. It was tabled to allow city committees to consider conditions to the permit that would address issues, such as prohibiting the units from turning into rental properties.

Working together to find solutions is a great hallmark of small government. It's a sign that public comment sections of meetings are received by both the public and those who sit on the boards.

However, we hope to see projects like this move forward – and soon. With growth coming to Washington County through new industry such as the Novozymes expansion and the Dollar General Distribution Center, housing is in desperate need.

Those proposed solutions and those pledges to work with one another need to happen sooner rather than later and in some instances, compromises that may go against a comfort level may be necessary.

With hundreds of new jobs created through new ventures, we need places for those employees to stay. Houses do not stay on the market long and current apartments fill up quickly. New housing is needed in our communities. If there's nowhere for new employees to live, they'll find another place to live outside of the county and their tax dollars will as well.

Looking further down the road, it could also hurt future economic growth of the county. With a limited number of homes available for employees, prospective employers may try to find opportunities elsewhere with adequate housing.

Washington County is changing and growing and positive additions are happening in the area. The simple fact is we need new infrastructure to support it and that can be done with compromises, openness and working together.  

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