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mclawsdrive

New Idea to promote (force) regional cooperation

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The city tried to consolidate with the county sometime in the 80's or early 90s. I can't remember exactly when. The measure passed in the city but failed in the county by a significant margin. Many cities in Virginia have been reverting back to towns to aleviate their economic woes caused by the suburban parisite county that surrounds them. Unfortunately, any municipality larger than 50,000 is required by state law to be an independent city. I have heard suggestions that local leaders could attempt to amend the state constitution to allow towns to exist up to 100,000 or so, to allow Roanoke to revert to town status. I doubt that would ever pass. But then I thought: why doesn't Roanoke just split into 2 towns of about 47,000 each. The county would then be forced to share services with the city.

Ideally, Roanoke would figure out the logistics of how to do this and then announce to the county that they plan on reverting to two towns unless the county agrees to the city's demands. The demands would essentially be a compromised, partial consolidation of government/services. If not, Roanoke would become the largest (I assume) town in the U.S...(actually two towns, but you get the gist).

As far as how to divide the city, I don't think it matters too much since it would probably only be in theory, but I think using 581/220 as the dividing line would keep a more even split of income groups and race than would the railroad tracks.

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Why should the burbs pay for some of the cities expenses? The city needs to learn how to manage its own money and not worry about taking the counties

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Why should the burbs pay for some of the cities expenses? The city needs to learn how to manage its own money and not worry about taking the counties

The problem is that the suburbs (in most cases) use the cities facilities without paying (proportionately) for them. Good examples would be museums, roads (VDOT doesn't maintain city roads), civic / cultural centers, and especially low income housing. As the metro area grows beyond city limits, counties refuse to provide or even allow low income housing, forcing the city to provide for an increasingly larger percentage of the regions poor. Suburban counties also send their homeless to the city. In the western half of the state, the official policy of most counties for the homeless is a 1 way bus ticket to Roanoke. State and federal policies also encourage suburban sprawl through road building and better mortage rates for new housing as opposed to renovation, while historically discouraging high density mixed use development in cities. Services, especially for the poor, end up concentrated in the city while suburban residents are largely exempt from helping to pay for these services.

The bottom line is that suburbs, with the help of federal and state policies, have intentionally made it difficult or impossible for the poor to live there, forcing cities to be overburdened with concentrated poverty and all that that entails.. i.e crime, decaying tax base, higher tax rates.

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The independent city system doesn't help much in this situation either... In many other cities around the country, the suburbs DO help with some of those city expenses because they are one in the same....

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The problem is that the suburbs (in most cases) use the cities facilities without paying (proportionately) for them. Good examples would be museums, roads (VDOT doesn't maintain city roads), civic / cultural centers, and especially low income housing. As the metro area grows beyond city limits, counties refuse to provide or even allow low income housing, forcing the city to provide for an increasingly larger percentage of the regions poor. Suburban counties also send their homeless to the city. In the western half of the state, the official policy of most counties for the homeless is a 1 way bus ticket to Roanoke. State and federal policies also encourage suburban sprawl through road building and better mortage rates for new housing as opposed to renovation, while historically discouraging high density mixed use development in cities. Services, especially for the poor, end up concentrated in the city while suburban residents are largely exempt from helping to pay for these services.

The bottom line is that suburbs, with the help of federal and state policies, have intentionally made it difficult or impossible for the poor to live there, forcing cities to be overburdened with concentrated poverty and all that that entails.. i.e crime, decaying tax base, higher tax rates.

Also the burbs don't get the federal funding the cities get so do the cities share those funds with the burbs?

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Also the burbs don't get the federal funding the cities get so do the cities share those funds with the burbs?

The federal funding for cities is specifically in reaction to the plight of cities, caused by federal and state policies. Federal funding in the form of interstate highways is a huge allocation for suburban and rural areas. It opened up suburbs to sprawl, while destroying and splitting the inner city neighborhoods. Urban 'renewal' funding through the mid 70s was used to try to help cities renew their decaying tax base, as people and tax revenue fled to the suburbs. Unfortunately it was a complete failure in most cities.

The majority of contemperary federal funding for cities is directed toward the poor and economic development in impoverished areas. Housing projects, community development block grants, and even section 8 vouchers go disproportionately to cities and not suburbs. Also welfare money flows disproportionately to cities, as does funding for programs for the mentally ill, physically challenged and other 'disadvantaged' groups.

I wish the federal government would give similar amounts of funding to the suburbs for these programs, but the unfortunate suburbs just can't seem to attract the people and conditions to secure these funds. Perhaps it is because they refuse to allow housing projects, low income housing, and facilities for 'disadvantaged' groups. If the suburbs demanded to recieve this funding, most cities would gladly let them take some away some of this burden.

The bottom line though, is that the federal government has favored suburbs since at 40s or earlier. Federally insured low interest mortgages went almost exclusively to suburban housing (due to discriminatory policies 'redlining' by banks and the government). Tax breaks on mortage interest went (and still goes) disproportionatley to the suburbs. Inner city neighborhoods were abandoned because inner city homeowners couldn't get competitive loans to fix up their houses. Poverty and crime became concentrated in cities as the middle class left. Many suburban counties have essentially made poverty illegal. If you become poor and homeless, you have to leave. Zoning laws allow counties to prevent affordable housing for low income groups and police simply move the homeless into the cities where the shelters are. Sure, cities get way more money from the federal government, but suburban leaders almost never complain, because federal and state policies allow them to avoid the responsibilities that cities have been forced to deal with.

So please suburbs, build your share of low income housing, provide facitities for the homeless, and generally provide an equitable share for the metropolitan area's burdens, and you too shall recieve federal funding equal to that of the central city.

This, in fact was my justification for a city/county consolidation for Roanoke. The funding the city gets would become the funding the consolidated city/county gets. The region would still get federal money for the poor, but hopefully, that money could be dispersed more evenly because low income housing and other federal funding could be distributed throughout the valley instead of being concentrated in a few inner city neighborhoods.

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Very well stated. The suburbs forget they wouldn't exist without a city center and yet when that city center is strained they give the big FU in response to the idea they should share the burden created in part by suburban zoning and sprawl.

Your idea is creative but I don't think would be very productive. Anytime you cram something down the throats of others their response is generally not too friendly and it creates more long term difficulty than the short term benefit warrants. The ice is thawing here between the county and city a little and that would quickly create an iceberg. In Roanoke, some of the difficulties that have historically discouraged city center living and development are being countered. Significant tax relief is being offered for renovation of city buildings and neighborhoods near downtown. It is a large part of what has encouraged the ever growing development that begun downtown about 3 years ago. Hopefully momentum can continue. Last year saw the first INCREASE in population in the city for many years. I take this as a sign that some of the efforts are paying off.

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One of the largest towns in America are in New Jersey hosting over 100,000 people in places like Edison, Woodbridge, Hamilton (Mercer Co.) and Dover (Ocean Co.).

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In Roanoke, some of the difficulties that have historically discouraged city center living and development are being countered. Significant tax relief is being offered for renovation of city buildings and neighborhoods near downtown. It is a large part of what has encouraged the ever growing development that begun downtown about 3 years ago. Hopefully momentum can continue. Last year saw the first INCREASE in population in the city for many years. I take this as a sign that some of the efforts are paying off.

I was in downtown Roanoke this weekend, and things seem to be going well. The percentage of 'upscale' restaurants/bistros etc. seem to be very high; Much higher than when I was in high school. There is a lot more activity in general as well. I wonder if this service industry growth is directly tied to the residential development downtown.

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Last year saw the first INCREASE in population in the city for many years. I take this as a sign that some of the efforts are paying off.

I know there has been a national trend recently towards 'older' cities reversing their population losses. After losing almost half its population, DC began increasing in population in the last few years. I believe the same is true for Norfolk and perhaps Richmond. Roanoke seems to be about 5 - 10 years behind Richmond and Norfolk, 10 -20 years behind DC in terms of downtown/inner city revitalization. Perhaps downtown Roanoke will go through a similar building boom to those cities. Hopefully the new art museum and the buildings under construction at the biomedical institute will help build momentum. I've heard that there is considerable activity planned for the area around the new/old YMCA.

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I believe the same is true for Norfolk and perhaps Richmond.

Richmond is actually still dropping some. Families are still moving out of the city and most of those moving in are singles, young couples & empty-nesters. So while the number of occupied housing units is increasing, population isn't.

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One of the largest towns in America are in New Jersey hosting over 100,000 people in places like Edison, Woodbridge, Hamilton (Mercer Co.) and Dover (Ocean Co.).

wow, those are some big towns. Conversely, there are many 'cities' in Virginia with fewer than 10,000. The smallest city in virginia that i've been to that felt (sort of) like a city is Harrisonburg. I lived in Fredericksburg for 8 years, and while they think they're a big city, it felt much more like a town to me; A town surrounding by the mushrooming suburban growth of northern virginia. Don't get me wrong though, I really like Fredericksburg, downtown is great. It just got way too expensive to live there considering the small town pay scale of 'big city' Fredericksburg.

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Richmond is actually still dropping some. Families are still moving out of the city and most of those moving in are singles, young couples & empty-nesters. So while the number of occupied housing units is increasing, population isn't.

Well I wouldn't be surprised if the population of RIC does start to increase soon. As the overall population of the region grows, there are more young people, singles and empty nesters attracted to the city.

The same is happening in Roanoke in my opinion. Growth in Bedford, Franklin and Botetourt increases the overall population, some of whom are attracted to the unique urban environment of downtown roanoke, which isn't even remotely present in those counties by any stretch of the imagination. This means that Roanoke's conditions will improve as it becomes a smaller part of the overall population. Fortunately, Roanoke is surrounded by a natural green belt of mountains, separating it from much of the emerging sprawl of those counties. This ensures (hopefully) that views from the city will be of unspoiled natural scenery on the horizon, even as development spreads well beyond the ring of bluish mountains.

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Last year saw the first INCREASE in population in the city for many years.

I'm wondering where this info came from. I'm very interested in any statistics or even rumors about recent population trends. So if bmedguy or anyone else has any insight, please share :)

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wow, those are some big towns. Conversely, there are many 'cities' in Virginia with fewer than 10,000. The smallest city in virginia that i've been to that felt (sort of) like a city is Harrisonburg. I lived in Fredericksburg for 8 years, and while they think they're a big city, it felt much more like a town to me; A town surrounding by the mushrooming suburban growth of northern virginia. Don't get me wrong though, I really like Fredericksburg, downtown is great. It just got way too expensive to live there considering the small town pay scale of 'big city' Fredericksburg.

The City of Norton VA has only 3,900 people! Compare that to Harrisonburg's 40,000 or Fredericksburg's 19,000.

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I'm wondering where this info came from. I'm very interested in any statistics or even rumors about recent population trends. So if bmedguy or anyone else has any insight, please share :)

Here is the source. http://www.census.gov/popest/counties/CO-EST2005-01.html Click on Virginia of course and once opening the source you have to scroll past all the county populations to get to the cities. It is a tiny and probably statistically insignificant increase, but still bucks a several year downward trend.

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Compare that to Harrisonburg's 40,000

Is that permanent residents or combined with student population?

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Is that permanent residents or combined with student population?

That's whoever filled out a census form saying they live in Harrisonburg. Students living on campus would not be counted, but a few students living off may have checked that they're an Hburg resident. Most students, even off campus, consider themselves residents of their hometowns though. So the 40,000 is mostly permanent with probably a few students included too.

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That's whoever filled out a census form saying they live in Harrisonburg. Students living on campus would not be counted, but a few students living off may have checked that they're an Hburg resident. Most students, even off campus, consider themselves residents of their hometowns though. So the 40,000 is mostly permanent with probably a few students included too.

I wonder exactly how that works. What if a student says they live in Harrisonburg but continues to vote in their hometown, or not vote at all. Or what if a student claims their hometown as their residence but lives in their college town off campus all year?

Seems to me that if students have off campus, permanant leases...ie. they don't have to leave during breaks and over the summer, that they are permanant residents. After all, if you rent private housing, you contribute to the real estate tax revenue of the locality. If you live on campus, your money goes to the school and state, not the locality.

Also, Blacksburg has 40,000 residents. It is my understanding that under state law, if Blacksburg's population reaches 50,000 people it will be required to incorporate into a city.

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From a US Census standpoint, I think students are considered half a person. Most of them do not vote in Blacksburg, but rather their hometowns. Virginia law is pretty stringent about establishing "full residencey" to vote in elections.

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