Who has a stake in smart growth?

Promoting the redevelopment of existing cities and towns rather than more suburban sprawl makes sense for a wide range of people, including:

  • Taxpayers, because efficient use of existing public facilities and infrastructure holds down tax burdens.
  • Children, because traditional neighborhoods are easier to get around in on foot or by bike.
  • Senior citizens, who benefit from greater transit options and more affordable housing.
  • Business leaders, who realize that compact, livable cities with efficient transportation systems make good business sense.
  • Conservationists, who want to protect natural areas and wetlands, save energy, and prevent air and water pollution.
  • Inner-city residents, who need support to redevelop neighborhoods impacted by years of disinvestment.
  • Residents of inner-ring suburbs, whose quality of life is also threatened by regional patterns of outmigration.
  • Farmers, who want to keep farming without the threat of encroaching subdivisions.
  • Developers, who would like to see a consensus on where development is appropriate.
  • Local officials, who want to balance budgets and see their planning efforts amount to something.
  • Institutionssuch as churches, hospitals, arts organizations, banks, utilitieswho are struggling to maintain investments in the urban core.
  • Historic preservationists, who see sprawl wiping out historic neighborhoods and rural landscapes.

Across the country, groups like the ones listed above are coming together in new, smart growth coalitions to fight for the character of their communities. The movement crosses partisan lines and is a growing political force.

 

 

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Concerns over urban sprawl seem to be on everyone's agenda these days. The fact remains that sprawl will continue unabated until alternatives exist, such as re-using abandoned areas of the inner city. In the long run, development in urban areas is cheaper (most of the infrastructure is already in place), more accessible to workers, and more strategically located for the efficient transportation of goods. In the short term, financial help is needed to assemble and remediate developable parcels and, in turn, sell them at a cost which is competitive with greenfield sites.
from "An Economic Development Agenda for Ohio's Next Governor" by the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, January 1998

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