Last fall, citizens in Pennington Borough, New Jersey, voted to increase the
county tax for the purpose of open-space preservation. In the same election, a
two-thirds state majority voted to preserve one million acres of open space and
farmland. The people of New Jersey are voting, on every level, to save land.
Nearly 100 towns and 16 counties now have dedicated sources of preservation
funding, totaling more than $200 million per year. In New Jersey, where sprawl
has been rampant for decades, we are at last starting to regain a sense of
Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey
Global corporations like Wal-Mart and Home Depot have ambitious plans to sprawl
across hometown America. But citizens' groups are battling back. The town of
Yellow Springs, Ohio, bought up 930 acres to save them from development. In North
Olmsted, Ohio, a new city ordinance requires that re-zonings win a majority vote
at the polls. North Elba, New York, has placed a cap on the size of retail
buildings, while citizens in Walpole, New Hampshire, convinced a developer to
abandon his Wal-Mart project. Developers may have deep pockets, but community
groups can prevail against the megastores.
Al Norman, consultant, Sprawl-Busters
The good news is that the Y2K problem is going to put the schnitz on the
sprawling of America. Adios, business as usual. Hello, new paradigm. We are going
to see disruptions in the global petroleum markets that will make the 1973 OPEC
embargo look like the three-legged race at a Sunday-school picnic. One
manifestation of this will be a spectacular loss of equity value in American
suburban property. The more auto-dependent a place is, the more likely it will
lose value, so you can kiss the Big Box stores good-bye.
James Howard Kunstler, author of The Geography of Nowhere
By restoring the plazas, transit stations, main streets, and downtowns that
energize community life. San Bernardino, California, began by transforming a
downtown parking lot into a thriving town square, then adding public amenities
and a live/work arts-and-entertainment district. New Jersey Transit is
refurbishing train stations with
people-friendly seating, historic lighting, community-tended gardens, cafes, and
concierge service. Such efforts are spurring the renewal of compact communities
where people can walk to shopping, school, and other activities on attractive,
lively streets, and mingle in the public spaces that are missing from the
isolated settlements eating up our landscape.
Fred Kent, president, Project for Public Spaces
As long as the "not in my backyard" notion prevails, the fight against sprawl
will be a battle of resourcefulness and cunning, not a
crusade of understanding and persuasion. Only the containment of
hyper-consumption will put a dent in sprawl's degradation of the biosphere. The
high-density Arcosanti community in Arizona is dedicated to this via the
reformation of the urban context-the city is the truer, if not the only,
resolution of the not in my backyard myopia.
Paolo Soleri, architect, Cosanti Foundation
Over the next 30 years, the metropolitan Chicago region may sprawl into an area
almost 200 miles long and 50 miles wide, reaching into parts of Wisconsin,
Indiana, and Michigan. This would be the country's first quad-state urbanized
region and the first to cross two time zones. The heartening news is that Chicago
has already begun reclaiming its future with two powerful sprawl-busting
techniques that help communities focus their efforts.
"Threats Maps," produced by
the Openlands Project, show all the outlying land that is vulnerable to sprawl
over the next 10 years in traffic-light red; any areas that might succumb within
30 years are in cautionary yellow. The meticulous "Visions" drawings from the Environmental
Law and Policy Center show communities what they look like now, and what they'll
look like in 20 years, depending on whether they choose compact, sustainable
growth -or sprawl.