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Urban blight

January 24, 2007

Fed up with the constraints of sub-division living, onnerous home owner associations, and urban sprawl, I bought some land in the county six years ago.  Just this past year, I completed my house, and have yet to begin enjoying the home and property for the purposes upon which I invested these years of time and money.   Lo and behold the nearby town has quite the growth ambition as of late, and soon the end of the quiet rural road upon which I live will become a major highway interchange, rail terminal, and self contained high density development area.  The farms and woodlands along the road are being plowed under for more sub divisions, and the roadside trees in peoples yards are being cut down to make way for power lines.  Why? Rural customers get power from the utility via underground lines or existing poles, while the new developments, annexed in, receive power resold by the town at a higher rate, and provided by new lines and poles to be installed along the right of way.

I’m truly perplexed – we are floating bonds, raising property taxes, and if I heard the news right this morning, adding another 1/2 cent to the sales tax (never mind the existing “temporary” increase of 1/2% that was supposed to expire, brought about to handle the last deficit) in order to build more schools for the burgeoning population.  Our roads are under funded to support the growth, and tolls and other fees are being proposed to cover that shortcoming.   Yet the growth engine continues un-abated to cram even more people into this area.   Eventually, equilibrium will be restored, the cost of living here will rise and  housing will be relatively less affordable, or unaffordably priced compared to other geographic areas.   The combined taxes, tolls, fees, and dues will slow things down.   Then, people will begin to pull up and move to the next hot zip code.

This former small town advertised itself as  “the peak of good living”.  Why is it rushing to grow to become just like its neighbor,  that’s been on an annexing binge for years, whom everyone either loves or hates depending on how you want to live?  

Now, I’m far, far from “green”, but I have to say while everyone pays lip service to the growing global warming trend, a blind eye is being turned to the consequences of over developing areas.  Pavement captures the sun’s heat and radiates it back at night.  Parking lots are heat sinks.  What’s hotter in the summer, the Walmart parking lot, or the city park?   Increased density produces more cars and more emissions, including CO2 which can’t be offset by the fewer and fewer trees that remain standing.   Shopping centers wipe out thousands of large trees and replace them with a few dozen saplings planted at each end of the many concrete islands throughout the lot.   For private property in the county, regulations allow no more than 10% “Impervious surface”.  The shopping centers that are replacing thousands of acres are like 99% impervious.  How is our rain water supposed to get back into the aquifiers?

This development map is just a fraction of what is going on accross the county at virtually every crossroads.  My little country road is on the left of the map, and connects with a 2 lane road framed in woods.  All that will be replaced by what you see below.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 25, 2007 12:07 am

    Man, that sucks, moving out of the worldly noise only for the wordly noise to come and fetch you.

    Excellent post. I share your point of view 100%.

  2. January 25, 2007 3:58 pm

    Totally sucks – now I know why they call the area – “Sprawl-igh”
    Local planners need to look to Switzerland and other European countries who have vigorously fought sprawl and consolidated themselves around dense village structures. Just because you have a lot of open space does not mean you have to develop it. I watched Cape Cod get ruined by the trend.

  3. mark permalink
    January 25, 2007 5:39 pm

    Thanks – I try to avoid the formula blog pattern of “Rant” but I just felt I needed to have my say somewhere. While I’m going to the meeting concerning this on Feb 1, the fact they have already drawn maps and hired a company to obtain additional “easements” from landowners tells me that it’s part of due process but not really open to influence by public opinion.

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