Group Of Dexter Township Citizens Vying For A Land Preservation Millage This November

By Lynne Beauchamp, and Seth Kinker,

Preserving land from future development has many Dexter Township residents petitioning for a millage to help pay the costs of land from ever being developed.

While not an agenda item, many citizens spoke during the regular board meeting in April of supporting a millage to help fund a PDR (Purchase of Development Rights) Program within the township.

Long time resident and land owner, Jim Poulter said he supports a PDR millage. Poulter owns 250 acres of farm land. He said the Lesser family currently farms his property which produces corn, beans and has pastures and woods. Poulter said he would like to see part of his property enrolled in a PDR program to protect the land for generations to come. The money he could receive from a PDR program would help pay off the land and save it from future development.

“I’m 87 years old and will probably croak in the next few years,” joked Poulter in a later interview. “I don’t want to roll over in my grave and come back to haunt if my property were to get sold for development,” Poulter added with a laugh.

Dale Lesser, long time resident and farmer of Dexter Township, said in a separate interview, he supports a PDR program in the township. He would like it available for the residents of the township to protect their land from future development. He said the Lesser family owns approximately 650 acres and has cattle, crops, orchards and honey bees.

Lesser agreed that no one wants to pay more taxes, but added preserving land for agriculture rather than having it developed, saves taxpayers money over time.

“Agricultural property pays way more in taxes than it uses in services and residential property uses way more in services than it produces in taxes,” said Lesser.

Dexter Township resident Barry Lonik said after the board meeting, he would like to see Dexter Township emulate a program similar to Webster Township’s PDR Program which he felt was successful and is pushing for a millage on this November’s ballot to support the program.

“Do you want to maintain the rural character of your community or not, you need to put money on the table,” said Lonik in support of the millage.  He added that continued growth in a community only adds taxes on to services that are provided by taxation.

“Studies show that residents of development don’t pay enough in taxes to cover the new costs that are associated with the debt-the new fire truck, the new sheriff’s deputy, the road maintenance and the schools. They actually cost a community more than what is produced in new property taxes” added Lonik. “Its a little bit now, but its lot more forever,” Lonik said in support of a PDR millage as opposed to future development.

One resident, during the board meeting, spoke in opposition of bringing a millage to pay for a PDR program.

“Taxes are taken by force and should only be used for things that are absolutely necessary,” said resident John Taylor. Taylor said he felt the residents of the community already pay high taxes for services and hoped the PDR Program millage never reaches the ballot.

Dexter Township Supervisor, Harley Rider, said he plans to put the PDR issue on the Dexter Township Regular Board meeting agenda in May for discussion.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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