Development and urbanism peeps!

If you didn't already see it on the birdsite, check out this thread about retail and big-boxen (by beginning here:


@Cornellbox Michigan and Indiana were the first to get hit with the Dark Stores tactic; I think Indiana managed to pass legislation to close that loophole but Michigan's fix died in the state senate in 2016 (and I don't know if was even taken up last year). Michigan specific info from my shop here:

@Cornellbox Mitchell's thread is heavy on blaming the victim, though, at least for states that have our strong-township structure. There's a prisoner's dilemma in that whichever local gov approves the Walmart first gets the tax revenue (limited as it is) and the neighbor who doesn't approve it has their local businesses killed off and gets nothing.

@Cornellbox I am looking forward to the Strong Towns web chat with Mitchell in a few weeks regardless:

@murphmonkey appreciate further information! The premises of low yield from big boxes, and their primary role as extractive still stands, though, I think. And the necessity for states to fight back is important regardless of contributory structure (maybe even more so where existing structure can be gamed like that)

@murphmonkey @Cornellbox yes, and my inner Georgist is screaming to point out that this also highlights one the downsides of focusing on property value rather than land value for taxation. Parking lots & $25/sq ft cinder block boxes are low value properties even if when land value is high because they can make a lot of money with that cheap investment.

@murphmonkey @Cornellbox also, her pointing to Vermont is instructive; the only way most munis in most states could have avoided this was via state law forcing regional cooperation to avoid the divide & conquer tactics of retailers.

@sstrudeau @Cornellbox forgive me if I have limited faith in our legislature's ability to impose mandates on locals that make things better, rather than the opposite.

@sstrudeau @Cornellbox After all, as noted, the legislature recently backed down from even curbing the most egregious abuse of the tax structure by the big boxes, despite the cities/townships/counties being unanimous in asking for those curbs -- Lansing has a long way to go before claiming they have the credibility to hand down The Right Answer on this!

@sstrudeau @Cornellbox (They also shot down legislation to enable a limited version of LVT at local option in 2015-2016, and enabling legislation for stormwater districts / impervious surface assessment just this past session, so actively denying locals tools to chip away at this.)

@murphmonkey @sstrudeau completely concur; we do have an awful legislature in many ways.

But calling it victim blaming seemed a bit harsh when the victims themselves are caught in a bad system.

@murphmonkey @Cornellbox my broader point was that in VT their state legislature gave munis a tool to counteract the pressure from big boxes (in their case, a regional decision making structure that disarmed the regional competition game); & as you point out, our state government has done the opposite. The state government is a critical factor here so blaming cities is (as you pointed out) missing the point.

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