- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Where is a body to live? We had 33 sprawl-related questions on ballots in 17 states. It seems growth isn't all it's cracked up to be. Arizona, with its great weather, has a major problem with thousands of people moving in each year. The farmer who has been hard-pressed to make a living is finding out he can retire in splendor simply by selling the farm to developers who are paying top prices for the land. The once fertile fields now only yield a crop of social problems.

Here is a great quote from Jonathan Weiss, head of George Washington University's Center on Sustainability and Regional Growth: “It's making citizens demand that action be taken,” he said. What citizens? I suppose the citizens he refers to are the first citizens to populate a community with the not-in-my-back-yard mentality. As additional citizens arrive, taxes go up, pollution increases and traffic becomes a problem. The other side of the coin is the depletion of the population in our cities in the northeast.

We are not in any kind of a population boom, so the movement of citizens would seem to revolve around the quality of life in certain areas. The quality of life in many of our old industrialized communities where manufacturing was once a mainstay is a thing of the past. We have turned manufacturing over to nations where unions haven't forced the cost of labor through the roof. Living in a city like New York may look good on “Frasier,” but that's only television make believe. If you are in the top 2 percent of wage earners, New York is the place for you.

I bet there is an environmental group called “People Against People.” After all, it's people who are causing all these problems. First they want to live in the city, now they want to live in the country. They ruined the cities with crime, outrageous taxes, corrupt administrations and pollution. Those poor bumpkins in the country should be pleased to see the influx of sophisticated city dwellers. In no time at all they will have exposure to cultural activity that they would never find at a barn dance.

In Arizona, a proposition on the ballot required cities and counties of more that 2,500 residents to adopt a 10-year growth plan and force developers to pay for roads, schools and other services to new subdivisions. That ought to stop any serious growth in its tracks unless they go back to the one-room school house and the two-lane road. Do we have a “Yankee go home” drive aimed at Yankees?

It's not like these states didn't ask for it. Arizona has peaked the interest of every old codger that plays golf. They run countless advertisements extolling the virtues of golf in Arizona. They don't say come and play and leave, but perhaps they should have. Florida, a state in perpetual gridlock, has no one to blame but themselves for turning the state into the senior citizen capital of the country. There are so many people living in depressed areas like upstate New York that it's hard to feel sympathy for states with too much growth. I'll take horizontal sprawl over the vertical sprawl in our cities any day.


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