Chartered in 1781, Roxbury has historically been dependent upon natural resources to support its population, which peaked at over 1000 people in 1860. With a sharp decline in viability of land-based businesses, the population of Roxbury dropped to a modern low of 354 people in 1970. However, recent town population increases have been very dramatic. In the past three decades, many young people have been attracted to Roxbury for a variety of reasons, including its rural and unspoiled character. Most of the wage earners in town are employed outside of Roxbury, although there is a higher proportion of self-employed residents here than in surrounding towns, indicative of the independent nature of its citizens.
As a small town with limited resources, relatively minor changes in Roxbury's population may have great impacts on town services and taxpayers' ability to support them. For example, recent increases in the number of students enrolled in high school (approximately 20 students) coincident with decreased state education funding have had dramatic effects on town finances. In addition, low housing and land values leave Roxbury vulnerable to increased development in nearby towns. A potential increase in low-wage service positions associated with major improvements occurring within the Sugarbush ski area may have profound effects on the Town of Roxbury in years to come. These scenarios clearly demonstrate the necessity of planning for the future.
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