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Stop Sprawl
1998 Sierra Club Sprawl Report: 30 Most Sprawl-Threatened Cities

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.

Between 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.

As people 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

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