Ten Most Sprawl-Threatened Medium Cities
Number Five: Akron
Although farming is Ohio's top industry,
census figures show that 90,000 acres were taken out of agricultural production between
1974 and 1995 in the five county Akron/Canton area because of rapid development. Northeast
Ohio's farmland is among the nation's 10 "most threatened agricultural areas,"
according to the American Farmland Trust. Pressure to develop more of the area's
agricultural land continues to build and Ohio residents have identified the loss of
farmland and the ensuing urban sprawl as one of the state's top environmental problems.
1990 and 1996, population density in the Akron area decreased by 37 percent, while the
land occupied by metropolitan Akron increased 65 percent. The region's population rose
only 3.5 percent in this six-year time period. The older urban and suburban areas are
being left to decay and the rural character of outlying communities is being destroyed.
As people move farther outside the city, farms in Medina County are quickly being
transformed into subdivisions. Medina County Commissioners are involved in an ongoing
effort to develop a "Community Guide" to determine where development should be
located and to help townships understand the implications of growth. However, opponents
have criticized this land-use planning process as ineffective because the county has no
authority over the townships.
In the new suburban corridors,
highways are crowded with traffic, particularly in the congested areas along Route 18 and
I-77. Commuter rail in northeast Ohio has become a popular option under consideration to
relieve the traffic jams on I-77. The transportation planning agency for the area is
studying the feasibility of rail. There is some concern that improved movement of people
from urban centers to suburbs would contribute to sprawl. However, development sparked by
the rail line could be directed to high-density areas near the rail stations.
migrate to the outer counties, highways are not the only resource that cannot keep up with
the new demands; existing water and sewer systems are also proving to be inadequate. The
Cuyahoga River is threatened with water pollution and sewer overflows, and a controversial
plan to divert water from the Great Lakes to provide additional water for the Akron area
has been debated.
Read the Report | Clickable Sprawl Map | Sprawl-Threatened Cities
Up to Top | Printer-friendly version of this page