Land Use

What's Worse Than Economic Disaster? Growth, I.E., "Sprawl"

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Boasting higher than average unemployment and declining jobs and population, Ohio is a hard-luck state, with a fistful of cities (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, et al.) that are either fully in the crapper or about to become then next municipal T-D-Bol Man. In all of this, it exemplifies the plight of the industrial Midwest. You'll find the same issues in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana.

So what's worse than economic stagnation or outright collapse? Well, any signs of development, of course, especially if it comes at the expense of those mythical small family farms. From USA Today:

From 2002 to 2007, the number of farms in Warren County [near Cincinnati] fell 14 percent from 1,036 to 896, one of the sharpest declines in the state. Before the recession hit, Hamilton Township saw an average of 600 new homes built each year from 2002 to 2006.

"It's hard for a community of our size to manage," Boeres said.

In nearby Turtlecreek Township, once a heavily rural area east of the small city of Lebanon, an entire new village called San Mar Gale is being planned.

"I used to ride my bicycle to town and never pass a single car," said township Trustee Dan Jones, who grew up in the area. "That's certainly changed. But I think we are managing it well."

Some small and medium-sized farms don't generate enough to serve as a family's primary income, putting pressure on farmers to sell land.

"Many leave farming to get a job," said Christy Montoya, an organizational director with the Ohio Farm Bureau. "Livestock-based and grain farms have taken a major hit."

Various lawsuits and zoning schemes to make it more difficult to develop land ensue: Hamilton Township has, for instance, "imposed an impact fee on new development that led to a bitter and unresolved court challenge from home builders. Government officials also have changed a zoning code to limit the density of homes in rural areas."

Whole article here.

Ohio is currently the 9th most densely populated state. Whole list here.

Reason on sprawl and land use here.