Economist says Notos’ economic claims are ‘bogus’

Apr 7, 2021

An economist hired by Trout Unlimited, a conservation group, says that the economic arguments being presented by the Notos Group to support their proposed “Hospitality, Entertainment, and Recreation District” are flawed.

The Notos Group hired the Mattapoisett-based FXM Associates to create economic reports about the impact that developing the land as it is currently zoned (if the rezoning were not to pass) would have on the town’s finances.
Currently, the only development allowed in the district is of single family homes on three acre lots. 

The FXM report says that 90 homes could be built on the 275 acre parcel of land that Notos has under contract. If those homes were built, FXM argues, the town would lose $800,000 each year in revenue, as town services to the residents of those homes would cost more than the homes would bring in in tax revenue.

Frederic B. Jennings, Jr., Ph.D., of Econologistics, said that their argument was flawed on several counts. 

First, he said, it would not be possible to build that many homes on the land and have room for roads and other necessary facilities.

Second, the new homes were undervalued by FXM, and the costs to the town are overstated.

Jennings said that FXM based the value of the properties on the overall average home value in Wareham, which includes a number of blighted properties. He instead based his analysis on similar homes in the Glen Charlie area, which recently sold for well over their estimated cost — more than $500,000. He also said they likely overstated the number of students who would live in new homes.

Additionally, Jennings said that the group’s calculations of the costs of adding students to the school system were flawed. FXM, he said, ignored the “fixed costs” of the district. Much of the schools’ budgets would not be impacted by new students, like the cost of building maintenance and staffing costs. 

He ran several iterations of the calculation, to the best of his ability, as FXM did not make all their data public, and said that new homes would not cost the town money, and could, instead, bring more revenue into town coffers. 

Furthermore, he said, without a specific proposal from the Notos Group, it is impossible to determine the true economic benefit of the rezoning, if there is one.

“My argument is that this claim that the current zoning arrangement is going to be a loss for the town is a completely bogus argument,” Jennings said. “I can’t speculate on what the consequences are of a completely undefined development project that is a blank check. I mean, who knows? It’s going to make some money for the Notos Group. Whether it benefits the town or not, I think is an unanswerable question at this point.”

Jennings noted that the rezoning seems to contradict the town’s stated goals of conservation in its Master Plan and other guidance documents.

“The point is this sort of myopic rush to decision tends to ignore ecological issues and crowd them out, and crowd out a sort of more deliberate decision based on these larger, long-term consequences,” Jennings said.

Jennings’ complete report is attached to this story.