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City Planning Exercise

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by GenSeneca, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. GenSeneca

    GenSeneca Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to my City Planning Exercise.

    I have asked you, the town leaders, here to discuss ways to improve upon life in our small town. Lets discuss the possibilities but first, I would like to provide some basic information:

    The Town: Senecaville
    State: OH
    Population: 450

    Economic Information

    Geographic Information


    Now I was looking at options for bringing Alternative Energy production to our town, but looking at the data - It doesn't appear as though this is our best option:

    Wind varies greatly:
    [​IMG]
    We get a great deal of Snow:
    [​IMG]
    Our Solar potential looks pretty good:
    [​IMG]
    As long as its not one of our many cloudy days:
    [​IMG]

    We get a great deal of rain and snow, so that with erratic wind speeds leads me to believe wind power is not viable for our town.
    Geothermal Heat pumps and solar power have potential. Cost is major issue with any advancements, so large projects such as these would have to come later.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    I would like to start with revenue neutral changes that will result in the towns growth. So please help me focus on the short term and share with me what you think we can do to spur growth and investment into our small town.

    The economic and geographical links provide a great wealth of information regarding our town, its natural resources, the population breakdowns, zoning laws, unused storefront property, unoccupied homes and so much more. Please take the time to make sure your ideas are realistic to the town.

    If you want to make America a better place, lets start right here at home and improve our town.

    I'll open up the floor.
     
  2. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    First I would try to lure a Dr. to the town, seems t large population to not have someone with a Doctorate in anything. Seems like to get more business, with the new economy more needs to be done to push College and Education to give the city a chance later on. Maybe some form of Scholarship, and some form or Tax deal to bring in some more high tech business, especially health care.
     
  3. GenSeneca

    GenSeneca Well-Known Member

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    I thank the towns leader for his input on ways to improve our town. I would like you to expound on your proposals:

    How will having people with unspecified Doctorates improve the town?
    I'm not saying its a bad idea or outside of being realistically done but there needs to be a better reason than "We haven't got one" before we bring one in.

    I think you're getting ahead of yourself, by your own admission that would be for the future of the town. In the meantime, lets stay focused on how can we draw better, higher paying jobs to town so our townspeople can afford college... and without increasing our budget.

    These are the fields out people currently work in:

    Males by Industry:
    * Construction (21%)
    * Public administration (10%)
    * Wood products (8%)
    * Plastics and rubber products (7%)
    * Administrative and support and waste management services (6%)
    * Radio, TV, and computer and software, and other electronic stores (4%)
    * Food and beverage stores (4%)
    Females by Industry:
    * Educational services (17%)
    * Accommodation and food services (16%)
    * Health care (13%)
    * Social assistance (9%)
    * Plastics and rubber products (6%)
    * Food and beverage stores (6%)
    * Public administration (6%)

    Construction and Education are the two biggest fields followed by Administration and Food Service. I also think its important to point out that we already have almost 50% of our total population receiving paychecks from the government or its institutions. Its my opinion that we should reduce that number by finding private sector replacement opportunities that serve the same function.

    Lets hear from some of the other town leaders....
     
  4. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    I hate stats!!

    What's Seneca like to live in? Lake looks great is that a focal point for weekends?

    Whats the town like? are the streets clean, are people polite are the schools good can you walk the streets without being knifed, can you walk in the parks without getting dog poo on your shoes, do the kids hang around with nothing to do, do the old folks have nice parks to go and have a good chinwag.

    Are you a councillor?
     
  5. GenSeneca

    GenSeneca Well-Known Member

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    1. Never been there, I hear its pretty quiet and boring
    2. I hear it is, also their main draw for tourism
    3. Typical small town off the main highway
    4. Streets look pretty clean
    5. People are friendly
    6. Decent Schools
    7. Very little crime (just one full time cop)
    8. Yes
    8.5 Maybe.. its the raccoon and deer poop you gotta watch out for!
    9. Most of the towns children are in elementary school
    10. Yes, lotsa places for old folks to do some sittin' and spittin'
    11. No, but for naming their town after me - They have earned my counsel.
     
  6. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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  7. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    Going on the notion that the OP wants to bring alternative energy to the community. This raises several questions:
    How is electricity currently generated?
    How much does it cost to do so?

    It seems to me looking at some of the info provided that the land area is rather small. Working towards annexing some outlying land, especially those with resource potential. I am not sure if this is even possible under Ohio or local county law. But it seems prudent to do so.

    As fo the city government to go about installing alternative energy sources, in my community I was actually a part of working out a tax break for those who wanted to install thier own windmills. Now I understand your concerns about not having enough wind there, wind though is the cheapest method in general and generally would work in tandem with more traditional methods of generating power. When its not windy, one relies on one method, when it is windy then wind generates it. The same works for solar.

    Noticing that the poppulation is not large, it is not unfeasible to have a large portion of the power use to come from green sources. Whereas a larger community of 50,000 or bigger would take a much greater investment.
     
  8. GenSeneca

    GenSeneca Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Bunz!

    I liked what you were saying about tax breaks to get alternatives installed. What would you think about offering tax breaks to companies that make Wind or Solar products, as incentive to move to town?

    That could potentially bring in jobs, it would certainly increase the towns GDP to have business growth... Might even have some people with Doctorates running the show. :)

    I will have to check and see just how much the typical Solar or Wind Turbine plant requires in sq. footage, but I believe the town is zoned sufficiently to allow a small factory to be built.
     
  9. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer New Member

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    The first thing that struck me is the fact that, it at least appears that, the vast majority of the residents of the area work outside the township. If you've got that many people having to drive that many miles for work, the first thing that needs to be done is to get more business's inside the township.

    As far as alternative energy, I'm going to cheat here a little bit, as my son-in-law happens to work in the electrical distribution business up there, so I'm somewhat familiar with what's going on; As it exists now, most of the electricity produced up there comes from coal fired plants. One of the useful byproducts of the coal fired plants is from the limestone used in the scrubbers, which is used to produce gypsum wallboard (Sheetrock), and given that a good portion of the population works in the construction industry, it does provide a benefit to the community.

    As far as alternatives to the coal, my first suggestion would be to install a Methane power plant at the local landfill. Even an average landfill produces enough methane to be able to run a 5 megawatt power generation plant, which is enough to handle about 1000 average homes, or in the case of Senecaville, 2/3 of the homes could be serviced by their own landfills. The downside to methane is that as the landfill grows, the lines will get longer and longer, and eventually all landfills shut down, so plant construction would have to be kept at a minimum so that when the landfill does shut down, the equipment could be easily moved to the new location. One way that the City fathers could "entice" residents to support the methane power generation would be to give all residents a tax credit for bagging their lawn clippings and putting them out for pick-up by the local garbage service(s), since vegetable matter is a great methane producer.

    Another alternative energy source that seems to be gaining favor in that area is wind generation, and judging from the stats on that area, even during the "dog days" of summer, there appears to be an average of 6.5 mph winds, which is sufficient for power generation.
     
  10. GenSeneca

    GenSeneca Well-Known Member

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    Methane, great idea! One not often mentioned but certainly practical for use in the town with such variable weather conditions.

    Onto some stats,

    The 2 biggest economic expenses for individuals are Food (1588) and Utilities (1515). Food is tricky, so I'd rather start with Utilities - This is why I began looking at Alternative Energy from the start. I wanted to find out if Alternative sources were economically viable for the town. Unfortunately, there are some substantial problems we encounter along the way.

    Most commonly used house heating fuel:
    Natural Gas 76%
    Propane-----7%
    Electricity---7%
    Fuel Oil------6%
    Wood--------3%

    Lets say we get a Methane Plant operational and producing electricity, only 7% can switch over to the new power source. That leaves 92% of our homes set up to burn fuels for heat... is it possible to use Methane gas directly?

    There are 874 occupied homes, so assuming Methane can fill the needs of 1000 homes, this is certainly a possibility worth exploring.
    ---------
    The invitation is always open for others to join us. I am surprised so many remain silent for an exercise in the practical application government.
     
  11. Libsmasher

    Libsmasher New Member

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    You're right next to west virginina - great for coal mining. You need to contact the ohio electric utility and tell them the townsfolk will be happy to have a coal-fired electric plant.
     
  12. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer New Member

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    Thanks, I try to do my part.

    Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any direct "LP to methane" conversions. The homes that are currently on LP, Natural Gas, or other fossil fuel based heating would need to convert to heat pumps, which in northern environments like Ohio simply isn't practical during the coldest months because of the way heat pumps work, unless the heat pump itself is located in a separate, enclosed, and heavily insulated "mechanical room" that isn't directly exposed to the outside elements.

    A alternative in the short term, or as a supplement to heat pumps, would be to use electric radiant heat (baseboard heaters), and while they are getting more efficient, they're still not as efficient as the conventional heating methods.

    Another alternative for new home construction would be to install radiant tube heating, where a liquid (usually a glycol mix) is pumped through tubes installed under the flooring, which heats the home. Since this method works off of a closed loop system, and is heated with an electric heat source, it is quite efficient. A similar system can be installed in existing homes, that operates essentially off of a converted water heater that pumps the glycol instead of water, and since this system can be electronically "zoned", each room can regulate it's own temperature.

    While winter heating is a major concern in northern environments, by using a renewable resource like methane for the cities electrical generation, the substantially lower costs should help balance out the expense of heating and cooling homes and businesses, which, after all, is the entire purpose of the exercise. If the town were to offer other tax incentives to the residents to convert from fossil fuels to all electric (most electric companies already offer substantial incentives to go "all electric"), as well as exploring installing an electric heat pump for the residents at a set rate per month on their electric bill, it would make the transition a lot easier for the customers, and cut down on fossil fuel usage. I remember, many years ago, where our local electric company was running a similar program for people to go "all electric" where they would come in and buy your old gas fired ranges, water heaters, and HVAC systems and install comparable electric units for some nominal additional charge to your electric bill, and so many people signed up for it that there was a 2 year waiting list! The only caveat was that you had to own your home, and sign a contract that if you sold your home before the units were paid for, they had to be paid off in full, or the electric company could block the act of sale.

    The biggest downfall to going all electric however, especially in northern climates is power outages because of ice, so it's best to have a back up system (fireplace, generator, etc.). We have similar problems here in the South because of hurricanes and tornadoes, so almost everyone I know has at least one good generator.
     
  13. Federal Farmer

    Federal Farmer New Member

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    Hi Lib,

    Perhaps you missed my earlier post? Asked and answered
     
  14. GenSeneca

    GenSeneca Well-Known Member

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    The people of Senecaville thank you!
    Ok, so I've condensed what you had said into 3 points. Bring back back up any you like.. Just wanted to touch on these.

    Tax incentives. Since the town is so small, the budget is similarly small. Lets say the town could offer tax incentives to Either business OR to the townspeople, which would you prefer and why?

    I would probably choose business for the long term benefit. Many of the townspeople are employed in manufacturing of textiles and other factory work. I was thinking about inviting a business to town that could employ local labor and create a product that was directly useful to the town. Any ideas?

    Power outages. Certainly no stopping these, underground wires would require a great deal of investment but its something we could look at gradually introducing.

    Backup systems. The coal plant down the road will not shut down without the towns customers, so it will still be there providing power to nearby towns.
    ----
    Thanks for taking this seriously and assisting me in this exercise. :)
     
  15. Bunz

    Bunz New Member

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    Hi there, A few things Ill add and point out. Wearing my local city council member hat, the tax breaks we did involved including windmills, solar panels and small household generators that run on conventional fuels. All privately owned electricity generators become considered personal property instead of real property and we made those generators exempt from personal property tax collection. It was not an easy sell but it did work. This stemmed from a few dozen homes in my community who were not on the power grid and had for the last few decades used thier own generators for power.
    So for having a community of that size make a tax structure that would bring an actual factory to make the various components and assembly of them is easier said than done. That sort of economic enviroment generally comes with considerable help from the state government.
    Certainly job creation is a good thing. I have often argued though that not all job creation is created...equally. I would prefer 50 sustainable medium-high paying jobs to 250 minimum wage wal-marters.
    Again, in terms of bringing green power to the town, the best bet is to create an environment where individuals are encouraged to produce thier own energy through enviromentally sound ways. The way to go about this is on the local individual level, waiting for private industry to choose one particular small town versus another to build a factory is a long shot. What can be done easier, as I said before, have the local government not collect taxes as improvements or increase in property value, and also minimize the various zoning laws that may exist to prevent them from being constructed.
     
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