Friday, November 27, 2009

Smart Growth?

It's great that back in 1999 Wisconsin got on the Smart Growth bandwagon and required Wisconsin counties and communities to adopt a growth plan within 10 years. But how serious were we?

A month or so before plans are due many communities will fail to make the deadline. The State may lengthen the deadline to 2012, with no penalty. Another sign of how seriously we take our environmental responsibility.

Nine specific areas were to be addressed in the growth plan:
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities & Community Facilities
  • Agricultural, Natural and Cultural Resources
  • Economic Development
  • Intergovernmental Cooperation
  • Land Use
  • Issues and Opportunities
  • Implementation
The suburbs and communities that need to control their growth the most: 1) do not want to work with others, 2) do not want regional transportation networks (other than highways), 3) feel the best land use is building over the land with highways and parking lots, 4) have no interest in affordable housing, 5) want to be able to simply import/buy any resource their community may need (as if this was a sustainable policy), and 6) do not want any actions taken, or not taken, to cost or affect them in any way.

Can we really say we have a "smart" growth plan when we continue to ignore the elephants in the room - the continued growth of edge cities, the enabling of resource (water) starved exurbs, and our dependence on highways and automobiles?

And, yet, after all of this, many are certain there will be lawsuits over the development rules.

Smart growth is something that has to be done at the state-level. Otherwise parochial shortsightedness will rule the day and we'll accomplish nothing, other than costly courtroom battles for generations.

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