Sprawl Begets More Sprawl
Happy Monday, Lehigh Valley! Hope everyone enjoyed the Superbowl and had a relaxing, (relatively) snow free weekend.
Kaid Benfield over at NRDC’s Switchboard posted a great piece today about an article in the new edition of the Journal of the American Planning Association. The article, titled “Do Large Subdivisions Induce Further Development? A Spatially Explicit Hazard Analysis of Land Use Change in Charlotte,” provides proof for what we’ve already thought: sprawl leads to sprawl. The authors, Bev Wilson and Yan Song, examined the suburbs of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to test their hypothesis that “large-scale residential subdivisions represent an intense, localized change in land use that exerts priming effects on subsequent land use decisions.”
To put it simply (and to paraphrase Benfield), the authors found that it is much more likely for a new subdivision to appear near a recently built one than in a place with no previous development. The most important implication of the study for those advocating smart growth is that review of a proposed project’s environmental and economic impacts should focus not just on the specific site of the proposal, but also on the effects of potential development of nearby sites. While this is something that smart growth advocates have said before, the study provides measurable data to back up these claims.