Thursday, March 1, 2007

Sprawl Warnings in SE Wisconsin Go Way Back

Reading through the news about sprawl development in Waukesha, long-time organizer and activist Marilyn Goris sent along this story - - published almost eight years ago to the day - - to add some perspective.

(The bold-faced emphasis is mine, fyi):

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 12, 1999
Sprawl a grave threat, group's report says

Urban sprawl will spoil southeastern Wisconsin unless developers create compact neighborhoods served by mass transit, according to a report released Thursday by Citizens for a Better Environment.

The environmental organization studied land-use trends since 1960 and found that land used for development nearly doubled while the population in the area grew only 3%.

Such sprawling development consumes open space, lengthens commutes and requires costly extension of municipal services, such as police and fire protection, to far-flung subdivisions, according to the report. The added miles logged by commuters a 64% increase between 1972 and 1991 also would add to the region's smog problems.

If the trends continue, an additional 155,000 acres of farmland and other open space will be used for development by 2040, according to the report, "2040, Getting There: Alternatives to Sprawl in Southeast Wisconsin." That acreage is equal to the land now used for urban development in Milwaukee, Washington and Kenosha counties combined.

"We can expect southeast Wisconsin to become less and less a place we'll want to live in," said Susan Mudd, state director for the organization. The study calls for "Livable Neighborhoods" in revitalized urban areas, and new homes developed on smaller lots in compact neighborhoods.

Redeveloping and limiting development also would negate the need to build new schools, roads and other costly infrastructure, according to the report. These communities would be served by mass transit and have shopping and other amenities within walking distance.

Examples of such "livable" communities already exist, Mudd said, pointing to Shorewood, Cedarburg and Lake Mills. Following the "Livable Neighborhood" growth pattern would result in 40% less land used for residential development, 13% to 30% fewer new miles driven and 56% less pollution than envisioned under current development trends.

"In fact, living in an environmentally efficient home in a compact neighborhood is more convenient, fun, sociable, leisurely and livable than an isolated tract home in a scattered subdivision two miles from the nearest convenience store and it's good for the economy," said Rob Kennedy, author of the report.

The study calls for local zoning regulations to conform to regional plans, enacting local ordinances to make pedestrian-friendly developments possible and to re-allocate money from road building to pay for better mass transit and promote bicycling and walking.

Copyright 1999
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.

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