The impact of sprawl- and a solution?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a bit.
The quaint little bedroom community of Waynesville, with its collection of antique joints in “downtown” is about to double in size, thanks to Oberer Companies who plan to add 863 homes on the 495 acre site of the LeMay farm.
The 2000 census had Waynesville’s population at 2,558. If you add an average of 3 people per home that Oberer will build, Waynesville will add 2,589 people.
Since the region isn’t growing, where do these people come from?
Many will be moving out from the first ring communities- Kettering, West Carrolton, Trotwood, Huber Heights, Beavercreek- all escaping the results of the last expansion.
Try driving down N. Fairfield Road at 5:30 pm. When I came to Dayton in 1983, it was a couple of lanes through farmland. Now, it’s overbuilt, and the demands on city services aren’t equal to the revenue generated.
Try driving 202 (Old Troy Pike) at I-70. Same thing. Overbuilt for the infrastructure that is in place. Instead of being able to invest our tax dollars into schools, parks, police and fire, cities are forced to pick up the tab on widening roads, improving sewers, extending water lines and the like to areas that were once food producing farm land.
Since the region hasn’t grown in population, what happened to the homes that were left in the migration outward? Take a look at Dayton, and you will see what may happen in the suburbs- as people keep trying to “escape” instead of improve where they live.
If you think escape is possible- you are mistaken. Look at the overbuilding going on in Springboro, where roads built for farm access are now carrying the loads of a mini-metropolis. 741 is now being widened to 4 lanes all the way to 73. This is money that could have been used for quality of life improvements.
If you want to see a model of what a forward thinking community has done to keep it’s residents happy with quality services and schools, one can look to Kettering. The Kettering Recreation Center on Glengarry Drive, The Fraze Pavilion, The Rosewood Art center- the new Athletic facility/ concert hall at Kettering Fairmount High School- all done to improve quality of life.
Springboro and Bellbrook have suffered huge growing pains from large influxes of new homes, without having the infrastructure or commercial tax base to support the growth. Waynesville will have the same exact problem.
With fuel prices rising, the lengthening of commutes makes even less financial sense. There aren’t 10 new jobs in Waynesville that would support the payments on a $200,000 house, never mind 863.
In the meantime, the glut of homes, ends up costing all of us as property values in the community core drop with oversupply thanks to the overbuilding.
Just look at the drop in enrollment in the Dayton Public Schools (even when you add in the Charters- the numbers are still dropping).
Either way, it’s time for leadership to step up with a plan.
One way to harness the spread is to do what Portland OR has done with a development limit- drawing a line in the sand and refusing to extend services outside the development limits. Another, would be to require an even swap- to build a home outside the core, you must earn credits by buying a home in the core and either demolishing it or rehabbing it. These “reinvestment credits” could be bought and sold on the market, with extra credits assigned to certain neighborhoods most in need, much like Historic Tax Credits. It’s a radical solution- but with the number of vacant homes, foreclosures and deterioration in the core something must be done.
What do you think?

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1 Comment on "The impact of sprawl- and a solution?"

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I’m not sure you can legislate a cultural shift, which is what it will really take to combat sprawl.

But I think that teaching people about building intentional communities might help. I’m not talking about 60s Hippie communes…I’m talking about land trusts, urban housing cooperatives, neighborhood associations, and maybe even a condo asociation (if it concerns itself with more than making sure that everyone’s flower beds match and no one has a plastic pink flamingo on the lawn).

But we’re not geared to think in terms of living intentionally in relation to others. All of our time and money is spent on developing the skills we need to be individual success stories. But very few of us know how to be social success stories and it takes more than a bunch of successful individuals living in isolation to make a successful community.

I don’t know about you, but my civics curriculum was limited to some trivial facts how government works. No one ever said that it actually pertained to me.

And when I went to college, all I knew was that I had to study hard to get good grades to get a good job to make a good income to move to a suburb so my kids could go to good schools and the cycle could repeat itself. I never had a single class about how to be a decent friend, partner, parent, neighbor, or citizen.

I don’t think that you can assume that some things should be so obvious that people will just know them.

I bet most of the people who drink $5 Starbucks lattes on their 45 minute morning commute aren’t even aware that they have another option or a larger obligation.