SMART GROWTH MYTHS: Why some smart growth policies may not be so smart...

2007

(see the full report at Smart Growth Myths)

Some of the comments below and in the link above are based on satellite land cover data provided by UConn's CLEAR office as of October 2008. However, some of CLEAR's data may have been adjusted with its December 2008 update. We may update Smart Growth Myths as necessary to be consistent with any new data that is revealed to us.

We invite all stakeholders to provide us with alternative data or alternative interpretations of any data.  For example, a member of CT's "Working Lands Alliance" told us our data is in error, but when we asked them to be specific so we could evaluate their claim and make corrections if necessary, we did not receive a response.

Let's start by sorting out fact from fiction:

THE MYTHS:

  1. CT is sprawling across the state and we're eating up all the open space;

  2. CT is losing it's farmland;

  3. "Residential development" or "urbanized land" has grown by over 100% while our population has grown only 12%;

  4. Connecticut is growing too fast; we're building too many homes and in the wrong places;

  5. Property taxes are driving poor land use decisions so we must reform the property tax;

  6. Suburban development (derisively called sprawl) causes excessive traffic congestion.

These smart growth myths are so widely used that many people have come to accept them as fact. However, these myths are, at worst, outright false and, at best, grossly overblown or misleading, creating unnecessary roadblocks to reasoned, balanced conversations that could lead to common ground and vibrant economic and housing growth in CT.

THE FACTS

In fact, according to UConn's 1985 to 2002 satellite mapping,
80% of Connecticut's 3.5 million acres
does not have development cover
(roof tops, pavement, etc.)

In fact, agricultural land in CT grew between 1985 and 1992.
We're not losing our farmland.

(New 2006 data suggests that the rate of loss in farmed land has been 1,400 acres per year,
not the 9,000 or more stated by opponents to development;
Also, up to 46% of the land owned by farmers is not farmed and much of this is in forest cover -
in essence - potential agricultural land in reserve)

In fact, CT is one of the slowest growing states -
(48th place each year since at least 2000), as of the date of this report
We're building the fewest homes now since
building permits began to be counted in 1980
2008 = lowest # annual permits on record.

In fact, most land use decisions are based on
many factors not related to property tax issues.

In fact, there's less traffic congestion
with suburban development versus city development because
many jobs are no longer concentrated in city cores and people do not choose
mass transit (trains and buses) in sufficient numbers to lessen congestion.

Yet the myths continue to drive the land use, development and economic growth policies in the state. The myths hurt our job growth and economy, force housing and land prices ever higher and, unfortunately, are not necessary to balance the protection of important environmental resources and community character with the new homes and places of business we need for a vibrant, healthy and prosperous Connecticut.

The Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut has proposed a new framework for thinking about land use, development and economic growth.

PRINCIPLES OF BALANCED GROWTH

  1. People should be able to choose where to live and the type of home they want to live in.

  2. People should be free to choose where to work, shop and play and how to get there.

  3. People should not have to struggle to maintain a lifestyle in an economy driven down by excessive land use controls and centralized planning

  4. Young people should not be driven out of state by high housing costs and the lack of high quality, choice jobs.

The first question that policy makers should ask when considering land use policy is:
How would adoption of any growth policy make it easier to choose to live and work in Connecticut?

Connecticut residents need to stand up for the freedom to choose within a balanced system. Balanced growth is about creating more options for people and creating a more functional, cost-effective regulatory system. Start by telling your local and state politicians to be reasonable and adopt balanced land use policies based on FACTS and that will make it easier to get things done throughout the state.

See the full report at Smart Growth Myths

 

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