Smart Growth in Action: Fundamental Principles
Principle 9: Balance growth with the availability of economic and efficient public utilities and services and through the investment of public funds consistent with these principles.
Think of community development like gardening. In order for the hose or the sprinkler to reach every bed, a gardener plots his or her garden in a neat, compact grid. This way, one water source can reach the whole garden all at once, and the gardener need not move too much to weed and maintain the garden. When the garden expands, plots are added adjacent to existing plots to continue the grid. A gardener would never make garden plots spread out and disconnected throughout the yard, otherwise it would waste the gardener’s time, money, and resources. In compact plots, plants grow better and require less resources and time.
Smart growth is like a well-plotted garden and businesses, services and homes are like plants. When our communities are developed compactly, it is more efficient and less expensive for everyone. This type of development creates more quality services for residents and more cost effective services for communities. The result is an efficient use of infrastructure and lower costs for streets and roads, water lines, sewage, electricity, recreational facilities, libraries, parks, emergency services and telephone facilities, among others. Vermonters have all experienced snowy, icy roads in the winter. More compact development makes the plowing and salting of these roads quicker and cheaper for local governments. Also, compact development gives more people good access to internet and cell phone coverage, a problem for many in Vermont. As we search for widespread alternative energy sources, it is especially important to promote compact communities to avoid reversing or neutralizing the benefits of these green energies because of “energy sprawl.”
Statistics show that this principle of smart growth indeed provides significant public cost savings. One study found that rural sprawl costs are about 60 percent more than denser urban development. In fact, it was estimated that smart growth can provide public cost savings ranging from $500 to almost $10,000 annually per unit (Victoria Transport Policy Institute). When it comes to using the public dollar to its best, compact growth allows for the smartest use of resources. So think back to your gardening sense, and develop pragmatically and efficiently.