The Republican county executive of Onondaga County has come out with a remarkable website and plan dedicated to smart growth. Joanie Mahoney wants new developments to locate in places with existing infrastructure. The Post-Standard reports:
Onondaga County lost 5,785 acres of farmland between 2002 and 2007, and 1,300 acres of forests were lost to development between 1992 and 2006.
All the while, the county’s population growth has remained flat, so the same number of people have to pay to maintain a growing amount of public infrastructure such as roads, sewers and water lines.
County Executive Joanie Mahoney is proposing a new development plan that she says will reward suburban communities that restrict sprawl and give tax credits to developers who build in urban centers rather than paving over farmland.
Sprawl – particularly sprawl without population growth – has consequences. More cars traveling more miles. Loss of land. Greater infrastructure costs. Bigger strain on public transit. Cities drained of people and resources. Empty downtowns. Segregation.
Onondaga’s plan points to the economic benefits of smart growth:
When former Mayor William Johnson started talking about sprawl around 2000, the backlash was intense. It helped cost him the 2003 county executive’s election. Have times changed?
Monroe County’s towns do not ignore the issue of smart growth and land preservation and many have comprehensive plans. The county’s planning department web page also details some efforts on the subject. But there’s no community plan (or will?) to address the issue of smart growth and talk about the consequences of sprawl.