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Jerseyman4

Why sprawl is not bad

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I found this article very interesting from the Sprawlington Times

Lengthy overlapping metro to metro sprawl in this state is interesting due to the I-85 "sun belt" corridor between Charlotte and Durham. While the article says sprawl is a good thing, is it good that our state gets sprawled allover the place? How about when I-85 is one day all 8 lanes from Durham to Charlotte and traffic stops 2-3 hours of the day in many places, should sprawl continue anyways?

The article does make a few good points:

Trapping more people into a tighter space can only make pollution and traffic congestion worse. Indeed, traffic tends to be the thickest in metropolitan areas like New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, where politicians have refused to build new roads to accommodate more drivers.

To wit, the suburbs have made it possible for ordinary Americans to enjoy the privacy, space, leisure time and choice that were once available only to the richest of the rich. The suburbs aren't a deviation from the American Dream -- they are the American Dream.

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Sprawl isn't necessarily a bad thing if it's planned accordingly. if developers left some trees on house lots before they developed and built houses, sububia wouldn't look half bad. As for I-85 being 8 lanes, either on one side or both sides, it needs to be done and it almost looks that way now. 40/85 in Alamance County already looks like Gwinnett County.

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There's nothing wrong with wanting to live in a house with a yard. Suburban development can be a good thing - if it's done thoughtfully. These 1500-home, single use massive cookie cutter subdivisions oozing forth are like they are for one reason: so developers can make a quick buck. And yet somehow, the public is convinced that they're getting exactly what they want.

Oh, and these days - half of the homes being built are "townhomes" - where you have no more space or privacy than you would in an apartment.

Years ago, people worked for years to buy or build homes; now, many folks think they're entitled to a house as soon as they graduated from college, and that they're also entitled to move into bigger and bigger houses as time progresses. They leave a trail behind them of cheaply built, crumbling starter homes, and some wind up in homes that they really don't need and can't afford, and rack up crushing debts that they'll never pay off. If you can afford it, fine; if you need a 40 year mortgage to make it happen and then credit cards to pay the bills? not good. You'd be surprised how many folks are living like that.

My biggest issue with American suburbia is our complete dependence on the automobile. Humans are extremely efficient at moving about by walking; actually very efficient at moving about; we didn't evolve that way so we can say "Screw it" and use a fossil fuel-burning 3,000 pound chunk of steel, plastic, and rubber to do absolutely everything. It's absolutely pathetic. It plays a huge role in the obesity problem that we're having here too. (My guess? The guy who wrote this article is in the camp who says our obesity problem isn't really a problem at all. Right.) Oh yeah, and the whole thing about depending on foreign oil, too. We are at the mercy of the middle east. We've constructed our lives such that we cease to function if the oil stops flowing. Great idea, considering how stable the middle east is right now.

He also says that it's unimaginable to live with kids without cars, strip centers, and massive parking lots. Wait, hold on a second, didn't families get by without cars for centuries? And in fact, families in other countries are still doing just fine without cars to this very day. Then, we started building things so far apart that the only way we can exist is to shuttle our brood around in four-wheeled isolation bubbles. The old-fashioned model where women do all the work raising the kids is just that, old fashioned, but there's no reason why men can't share the responsibilities and make it happen too, is there? Am I just hopelessly naive about this?

Another problem. It's not safe anymore to send a kid to the store for a jug of milk, because 1. it's too far, 2. traffic's too dangerous, and 3. you're afraid of kidnappers. Things weren't always like that. Perhaps it's not a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but things didn't really start to decline until the suburbanization hit full stride.

That article looks nice and it may make sense at face value, but I find it to be thinly veiled doublespeak.

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Build more roads and get.....more sprawl. Build more subdivisions and get....a never-ending pollution fiesta spread throughout the metropolitan region. I understand the desire to have a patch of green space to call one's own, but the majority of suburban building is simply awful. Can't we challenge ourselves to do better?

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How do the Europeans do it? They manage to ride their bike or walk to work, WALK to the STORE, and seem to have a fun time doing it at that. Who's concept for America was BIG, BIGGER, and BIGGEST. That perfectly describes our people, houses, cars, stores, and our way of life.

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Trapping more people into a tighter space can only make pollution and traffic congestion worse. Indeed, traffic tends to be the thickest in metropolitan areas like New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, where politicians have refused to build new roads to accommodate more drivers.

To wit, the suburbs have made it possible for ordinary Americans to enjoy the privacy, space, leisure time and choice that were once available only to the richest of the rich. The suburbs aren't a deviation from the American Dream -- they are the American Dream.

Sprawl creates more pollution and traffic in the first place, making urban areas less desirable, because the effects are more pronounced there. It's a positive reinforcement cycle. One made possible by capitalism, the interstate highway system, the profuse amount of cheap land in North America, and the temporary availability of petroleum culminating in the 1950's.

Sprawl requires more from city infastructure: more roads to move people around, more water and power lines to service areas still technically in the city, more maintenance for all of them. It's really more expensive for everyone in the long run to live and work further away from everyone else, but we don't see it because in some cases the government picks up the tab for us, in some cases it's buried in too many other bills for anyone to notice. These extra utilities are ugly, and the residences are usually ugly, and the poor land-use they operate in is often a lot uglier than the natural areas sprawling developments destroyed in the first place. And then it's also culturally detrimental, because people are just living in their little car-worlds, going to dime-a-dozen big box retailers and chain resturaunts. They never know things outside of it.

Big multipurpose structures are more economic to heat, power, supply with water. With everyone closer together, it takes proportionally less fire and police coverage to do the same job. And urban areas generally just look pretty. They have an aesthetic quality to them that cookie-cutter homes and outlets don't.

But we'd be lying to ourselves if we said nobody liked sprawl. Lots of people do. And lots of people don't, but live with it because it's economic for them. Unfortunately it is for most of us, and it'll be a long time before urban revitalization changes anything about it.

I read through the rest of the article, and I'm quite sure this is not objective journalism. I wouldn't pay too much attention to it, because from the arguments and rebuttals given, it's clear this guy isn't too well read on the topic to be relevant.

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Here's a sprawl site aimed at Atlanta and I totally agree with it. Here's a picture that makes me wanna barf :sick:

sprawlComp.jpg

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It's easy for some people to say sprawl is good, because it disproportionately benefits some and hurts others. In the long run, it really is a drag on everybody. imho

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I became less and less impressed with sprawling new subdivisions, because I spent a lot of time working second jobs as a delivery person. It can't help but sink in after a while, that if things were closer together, you would get to where you need to faster, use less gas, etc.

My old house in Anaheim was a 6000 square foot lot. I spent more time standing outside watering it, than I did cutting grass or raking leaves. I'm very aware of how many weekends I have to give up, maintaining two 1/4 acre lots (a rental home and mine) in Charlotte.

And I did not feel like I lived in a sardine can, either. It was a nicely built ranch home. 3 BR 1 BA with a garage. (And all the garages in that 1940s neighborhood were behind the houses, making the streetscape look much nicer.) It *is* possible to build compact, efficient neighborhoods and still have the suburban yard and feel.

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As to the point about traffic being thickest in high-density areas such as New York City and Washington, DC- sure, traffic in midtown Manhattan grinds to a halt during rush hour and for longer around winter holidays. But in a dense, walkable area with public transportation, such as midtown Manhattan, even if traffic grinds to a halt, that traffic congestion doesn't affect everybody. Probably most people in midtown Manhattan during rush hour are walking or taking the subway. Traffic congestion doesn't really impact them because they're not driving.

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That article misses the point. The argument against sprawl isn't "make everyone move to the city," it's more like, "build denser neighborhoods that encourage walking, biking, etc.," among other arguments.

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And to think, rapid transit still isn't a high priority in many of these areas, where sprawl is at its worst...

Are there any plans to incorporate rapid transit lines as an integral part of the development taking place along the I-85 corridor?

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Sprawl isn't necessarily a bad thing if it's planned accordingly. if developers left some trees on house lots before they developed and built houses, sububia wouldn't look half bad. As for I-85 being 8 lanes, either on one side or both sides, it needs to be done and it almost looks that way now. 40/85 in Alamance County already looks like Gwinnett County.

I really hope that we don't follow the same path as the ATL metroplex, but 40/85 in Alamance resembles nothing of Gwinnett County. Every time I'm in Gwinnett Co. (which is at least 1-2 times per month) I am amazed at the constant almost 24 hr congestion, shopping/strip malls almost on top of each other, and people blazing thru traffic like they are competing for the checkered flag at a NASCAR Race (not to mention some NASTY speed traps those cops run down there!! :shok: )

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I really hope that we don't follow the same path as the ATL metroplex, but 40/85 in Alamance resembles nothing of Gwinnett County. Every time I'm in Gwinnett Co. (which is at least 1-2 times per month) I am amazed at the constant almost 24 hr congestion, shopping/strip malls almost on top of each other, and people blazing thru traffic like they are competing for the checkered flag at a NASCAR Race (not to mention some NASTY speed traps those cops run down there!! :shok: )

I thought it looked like Gwinnett County because of the truck stops and motels on each side of the road and considering how wide it is at places. The place where it looks alot like Gwinnett is near the Mt. Hope Church Road exit.

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I thought it looked like Gwinnett County because of the truck stops and motels on each side of the road and considering how wide it is at places. The place where it looks alot like Gwinnett is near the Mt. Hope Church Road exit.

More accurately, Burlington & Orange Counties will eventually become the next Howard/Anne Arundel counties.

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Alamance is well on its way to looking like total and complete crap, but not Orange. The county and the towns have a joint planning agreement which creates an urban services boundary around Chapel hill/Carrboro and Hillsborough.

This causes some secondary problems of its own, but is also helps direct growth into existing areas. Some better urban planning needs to take hold in Alamance, or in ten years it will have all of the problems of the suburbs and few of the benefits of living in a town.

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Burlington is a good town but the other towns, im not too crazy about them

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We complain a lot about our sprawl, in NC, but luckily we're a lot better off than many states. Spend some time looking through google maps, and you'll see much worse sprawl in other southern states, mid-atlantic states, and even that pales in comparison with the midwest.

Here, we have a few chain shopping centers and strip malls a few miles from the city center. In many places, they're on every block, at every intersection, far off into the horizon.

True, Greensboro and Durham could have better skylines. They're lucky they have walkable, interesting downtowns at all though.

We're one of the few states sprawl has helped, but we can't let that jade our opinion. Predominantly, it's killed any culture at all in most of the country, and if we let it continue for long enough, we can expect that here.

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We complain a lot about our sprawl, in NC, but luckily we're a lot better off than many states. Spend some time looking through google maps, and you'll see much worse sprawl in other southern states, mid-atlantic states, and even that pales in comparison with the midwest.

Here, we have a few chain shopping centers and strip malls a few miles from the city center. In many places, they're on every block, at every intersection, far off into the horizon.

True, Greensboro and Durham could have better skylines. They're lucky they have walkable, interesting downtowns at all though.

We're one of the few states sprawl has helped, but we can't let that jade our opinion. Predominantly, it's killed any culture at all in most of the country, and if we let it continue for long enough, we can expect that here.

Let me respectfully but strongly disagree. If we're supposed to be grateful because we haven't destroyed the entire state yet, just a good deal of it, where's the pride in where you live?

"North Carolina cities: Less Crappy than Atlanta and Dallas"

That's not a reason for enthusiasm or gratitude. North Raleigh is just as bad as anywhere in Atlanta with the exception of the air quality being slightly better. It's an entire city district with tens of thousands of residents and not a single building worth taking a picture of.

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Next time, I reccommend reading the entire post before replying. That's approximately what I said. If we become complacent in an attitude that settles for sprawl just to boost population or business, because we think we're getting a good deal out of it, we'll set ourselves up for many of the mistakes these other places have made.

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Next time, I reccommend reading the entire post before replying. That's approximately what I said. If we become complacent in an attitude that settles for sprawl just to boost population or business, because we think we're getting a good deal out of it, we'll set ourselves up for many of the mistakes these other places have made.

Let me clarify. I think things here are just as bad, if not worse than in other places around the US, and I believe that local culture on the exurban fringe, particularly in places like Alamance County, is gasping its last breath before chain stores crush whatever is left.

You and I agree on the long run view that is needed. However, I disagree with your interpretation that we should not become complacent. We have been complacent for a long time, and too many leaders in NC remain so.

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The reason burlington looks so "Sprawled" is because for many years Burlington's leaders were against any type of development. The people of Alamance county had to drive to greensboro or durham whenever we wanted anything. Once the leadership changed Alamance county was flooded with development that had been waiting to come. Busy corridors such as Huffman mill road and Church Street had been fully developed without smart land use planning. and now new businesses began to add on to the already bad planning. Burlington is now fixing the mistakes of the past. This is evident on the Western Alamance Loop commonly referred to as University Drive. People are always so quick to "knock" Burlington and Alamance county on Urban Planet. I've watched this countless times over the years and I have finally decided to join. and speak up for burlington.

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The reason burlington looks so "Sprawled" is because for many years Burlington's leaders were against any type of development. The people of Alamance county had to drive to greensboro or durham whenever we wanted anything. Once the leadership changed Alamance county was flooded with development that had been waiting to come. Busy corridors such as Huffman mill road and Church Street had been fully developed without smart land use planning. and now new businesses began to add on to the already bad planning. Burlington is now fixing the mistakes of the past. This is evident on the Western Alamance Loop commonly referred to as University Drive. People are always so quick to "knock" Burlington and Alamance county on Urban Planet. I've watched this countless times over the years and I have finally decided to join. and speak up for burlington.

When you say Burlington is fixing any mistakes, what do you mean? Are there any mixed-use projects going in? Are there projects being built close to the street with parking behind?

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