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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jeffco Planning Commission Promotes Blight

[Published with my column in the Denver Post, on Jan. 12, 2012]

What is “smart growth”?

In November, the Jeffco Planning Commission approved a revision to the North Plains Area Plan, designating over 1,000 acres of open land west of Highway 93 as a new “Urban Activity Center.”  Although this didn’t constitute a rezoning of what is currently agricultural land, it means that a future request for urban-style rezoning would be justified as complying with the revised plan for that area.

I testified against the redesignation, and pointed out that promoting that kind of sprawl — the kind which has transformed the areas through which C-470 and E-470 pass — actually promotes blight in the older developed areas.

Creating more and more suburban opportunities for overbuilding merely promotes sprawl, but it also promotes continued abandonment of older areas.  A “smart growth” strategy, in my opinion, would only open outer agricultural areas to development as a shortage of developable land is perceived in the inner urban areas.

By contract, the building of transit lines, such as TREX and FasTracks, promotes smart growth. I recently learned, for example, that there has been $6 billion of economic development along the TREX corridor since that transit line opened.

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