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Re: SG-W:/ The Vision



>What is the goal of anti-sprawl activists?

To prevent sprawl, obviously. ;-)  But even identifying THE reason for 
being anti-sprawl is not so simple, mainly due to the diversity of 
opinions among people who might consider themselves "anti-sprawl 
activists". Many among this group consider themselves foremost farmland 
preservationists or natural habitat preservationists, and within those 
groups individuals each have yet more various reasons for their 
positions. The list of reasons also includes the negative impacts sprawl 
has on social interactions, air and water quality, other environmental 
impacts (higher energy use, for example), and infrastructure costs.

>Reduced population growth
>in the periphery, increased growth in population centers; but
>in particular, I would like to know how much more density they would
>like to see in Ann Arbor.

Personally, I wouldn't like to see more density anywhere, but that's not 
realistic. Of course, we're entitled to have a goal, and I think some 
limit on county population (through some as-yet-undetermined means) is a 
valid goal. In order to do that, or reasonably discuss density 
preferences for Ann Arbor, we need more information on current population 
and expected growth over the next decade or so. SEMCOG has that type of 
information, so it may just be a matter of looking at it and determining 
realistic (yet creative!) options for achieving our goal(s).

But to answer this question more directly, I would like to see population 
increases occur in cities and towns rather than in the townships, where 
the vast majority of remaining farmland and open space exists.

How much more in Ann Arbor? I just returned from vacation in Oregon and 
Washington, having spent several days in Portland and Seattle. Based on 
that experience I would say that downtown Ann Arbor could potentially 
handle up to a 20% increase in "occupants" (not necessarily residents) 
over current levels without major negative impacts. The key word is 
"potentially"--proper transportation planning and 
development/redevelopment in that area would be absolutely necessary to 
avoid problems with traffic, parking, economic viability of businesses, 
etc. I'm sure other people with more urban planning background would have 
a better sense of what's possible, but I just think that any increase 
beyond 20% would exceed my personal limit. I don't want to live in 
Seattle--if I did I'd move there.

Where would these 20,000-odd people live, though? Some should live 
downtown. (I suspect that it could be a very nice existence for a period 
of time.) Some will live in the adjacent townships--let's face it, there 
will be more houses built there. But preferably there will be another 
option that emerges. Maybe it will be the construction of mixed 
commercial/residential buildings/neighborhoods, perhaps replacing 
existing strip malls.

On the other hand, we need to keep in mind that the population of the 
county may start to decrease sometime in the next 50-100 years, so do we 
want to go through the increase in housing just to accomodate the "peak" 
in population levels? (By the way, population in the city of Ann Arbor 
has actually declined in recent years, I believe. Mainly due to smaller 
households.) If this is the case, shouldn't we make an effort to prepare 
for these changes in population wisely, with respect to currently 
undeveloped lands, among other things?

Then there's bound to be some folks out there who don't want to see any 
population increase in the county (or a much sooner decrease), and while 
I don't know how realistic that is, I'd love to hear from them on this.

Steve


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