City Hall in Dover, New Hampshire.

Development is crucial to Dover’s future. It will allow Dover to expand the tax base rather than increase the tax burden. It is a powerful tool that will enable the city to scale services and reach more residents. Beyond economic advantages, development will also assist Dover in minimizing our environmental impact.

Tap into Existing Infrastructure

As a city and municipal service provider, Dover has existing infrastructure with high fixed costs and available capacity. This infrastructure includes buildings, roads, and water and sewer systems. Regardless of whether these resources are being utilized or not, there are ongoing expenses required to maintain them.

Development, on the other hand, connects new users to the existing infrastructure with high fixed costs. By doing so, it expands the tax base and ultimately reduces the individual tax burden for Dover residents.

Mixed Use Developments

Housing development in urban areas helps limit urban sprawl, which leads to longer commutes and increased infrastructure costs. Compact, urban development enables cities like Dover to serve more residents in a smaller footprint. It also limits the city’s need to create new infrastructure to reach areas with low expected utilization.

Mixed-use developments benefit from convenient access to consumer goods and entertainment. Residents are able to drive less, reducing fuel consumption, traffic, and Dover’s carbon footprint. Additionally, they make Dover businesses more attractive by reducing friction in accessing goods. When a resident can meet their needs with a short walk or bike ride, they are less likely to take their money to another community.

Economic Benefits and Local Business

Downtown businesses can benefit from a positive phenomenon called network effects. This can be illustrated by the example of Facebook. Although people have different levels of enjoyment when using Facebook, its marginal utility to many is undeniable. People and businesses use Facebook for the marginal utility that it provides. Because Facebook delivers high marginal utility, more users are attracted to Facebook, which increases its marginal utility, which attracts more users to Facebook. This phenomenon repeats ad infinitum, until Facebook’s addressable market is saturated.

Dover needs to encourage mixed-use developments with first-floor businesses. When building new developments, such as the riverfront, we should focus on scaling upward before scaling outward. This doesn’t mean that we should build skyscrapers. Instead, it means prioritizing the need for walkable and bike-able access to businesses.

When businesses receive more foot traffic, they generate more revenue. As businesses earn more money, more businesses will be attracted to Dover’s economic epicenters. As a consequence, this will attract new residents to Dover, who will spend money at local businesses.

Improved Transportation and Micromobility

The development of urban housing can enhance public transportation options by increasing population density. This would support increased availability of efficient transit services, like the COAST buses that serve Dover. Better public transportation makes commuting easier for residents, and reduces their dependence on personal vehicles. It also exposes more job opportunities to residents who do not own vehicles.

By investing in pedestrian-friendly development and providing affordances for cyclists and e-bikes (micromobility), Dover will enable people to travel more frequently and cover greater distances without having to rely on motor vehicles.

Environmental Benefits

By focusing housing in urban areas, we will reduce the environmental impact caused by transportation and land use. This strategy promotes walking, cycling, and the use of public transit, resulting in a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Importantly, it does not require people to walk or bike. Rather, it creates a natural incentive; making walking or biking the fastest, cheapest, and most convenient option.

Community Resilience

Urban areas are resilient to economic changes because they often have a diverse economic base. The diversification of housing and employment opportunities makes communities more resilient to economic downturns. Having many residents with many employers helps to mitigate the risks associated with having many residents and few employers, or few residents with few employees.

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