Impacts of Sprawl

Loss of sense of place and community decline resulting in:

  • Fragmented and dispersed communities and a decline in social interaction
  • Isolation of some populations, such as the poor and elderly
  • Increased energy consumption

Sprawl has many adverse impacts on the quality of our individual lives and the health of our communities.  These include:

Higher individual and community costs resulting from:

  • Increase in automobile dependency, fuel consumption, and air pollution
  • Increased commuting times and costs that results in more time in our cars and less time for family, friends, community and recreation
  • Reduced opportunity for public transportation services
  • Increase in health problems in children and adults due to sedentary life style

Fewer children are walking to school - Source: Surface Transportation Policy Project (American Attitudes Toward Walking and Creating Better Walking Communities, 2003)

Decline in Community Vitality:

  • Decline in economic and fiscal viability of existing community centers due to a loss of share of retail sales to malls and big-boxes
  • Vacant buildings
  • Lower property values
  • Loss of basic goods and services for residents
  • Abandoned public investment – delivering services to far-flung developments is not cost-effective and past and existing investment in urban and village centers is wasted.

Reduced Economic Opportunity:

  • Poorly-planned, scattered development costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to support inefficient and over-built infrastructure.
  • Excessive public costs for roads and utility line extensions and service delivery to dispersed development
  • Decline in economic opportunity in traditional centers
  • Premature disinvestment in existing buildings, facilities and services in urban and village centers
  • Relocation of jobs to peripheral areas far from population centers
  • Decline in the number of jobs in some sectors, such as retail
  • Isolation of employees from activity centers, homes, daycare and schools
  • Reduced ability to finance public services in urban centers
  • Loss of farmland – so key to state’s history and rural economy

Diminished Environmental Quality:

  • Fragmentation of open space and wildlife habitat
  • Loss of productive farmland and forestland
  • Decline in water quality from increased urban runoff, shoreline development and loss of wetlands
  • Inability to capitalize on unique cultural, historic and public space resources (such as waterfronts) in urban and village centers