Moving Ohio toward
smarter growth

Abstract of presentation by David Beach, Executive Director of EcoCity Cleveland, to the Ohio House Subcommittee on Growth and Land Use, September 25, 2003


There's been a rising tide of concern about land use problems in Ohio. The concerns tend to revolve around the following issues:

  • Rapid pace of land consumption
  • Fiscal constraints
  • Environmental constraints
  • Urban county build-out
  • Big-box retailing
  • Traffic congestion
  • Changing needs of families
  • Social justice and access to opportunity
  • Global competition
  • Yearning for community and authentic places

In 1998, EcoCity Cleveland worked with researchers at the American Planning Association to recommend what the state should do to address these concerns about growth and land use. Our Ohio Smart Growth Agenda found:

1) state investments, policies, and programs greatly influence where development is occurring in the state;

2) state departments have no overall vision regarding growth and development in Ohio and tend to pursue their missions narrowly; and

3) other states provide models for how state government can do a better job managing growth.

The State of Ohio needs to become more thoughtful about where it promotes growth. This will require:

  • Coordination and planning: The creation of a high-level organization in state government to coordinate among state departments and promote sound planning at all levels. A first task would be an inventory of all state policies and programs that influence development.
  • Land use goals: The drafting of a cross-cutting development, redevelopment, and resource conservation goals document for the state.
  • Targeted investments: Development of an incentive-based state investment program that targets state growth-related expenditures (such as for infrastructure or economic development) to locally designated compact growth areas.

This agenda would meet current political requirements in Ohio. It would be revenue neutral, based on incentives rather than regulation, and would not interfere with home rule or property rights.

It's critical to promote sustainable patterns of land use in Ohio's metropolitan areas. Regional land use patterns are a fundamental issue affecting many other issueseconomic competitiveness, fiscal capacity of communities and school districts, urban redevelopment, farmland preservation, environmental quality, public health, access to opportunity, and the quality of place.


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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003

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The State of Ohio needs to become more thoughtful about where it promotes growth.


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