If you raised your eyebrows when you read that Merced city leaders were encouraging a new housing development, you could hardly be blamed.
With one of the nation's highest foreclosure rates and a sizeable inventory of empty houses, it's reasonable to assume that new homes should be last on Merced's list of priorities.
But you'd be wrong.
Merced Meadows, a development encompassing 59 single-family homes, is the definition of smart growth.
It's a small project, but the city will benefit from much-needed fee income, and it'll create jobs for local construction workers. (Merced-based David G. Alexander is the contractor in charge of construction).
It's being built in an area that was already slated for housing.
In fact, the development it replaces was already partially built before the housing crisis hit Merced, so current homeowners are likely breathing a sigh of relief that there's a new plan for the vacant lots bordering their houses.
Priced between $137,000 and $155,000, the homes are more affordable for Merced residents. (Three years ago, homes in the area were starting in the mid-$200s.)
The city of Merced worked with John Sessions, chairman of South Merced Development Co., to reduce the impact fees that traditionally pay for infrastructure.
The move allowed the developer to lower the cost of the homes and accelerate the date when houses could be built.
Merced city leaders should be applauded, not criticized, for their forward thinking on this project.
With any luck, Merced Meadows will become a testament of smart growth and not a monument to poor planning.
Editorials are the opinion of the Merced Sun-Star editorial board. Members of the editorial board include Publisher Debra Kuykendall, Executive Editor Mike Tharp, Editorial Page Editor Keith Jones, Online Editor Brandon Bowers and visiting editor James Bennett.