Letter: Forced urban sprawl on Monument Road
Mesa Land Trust’s short sighted “Vision for Monument Road” is creating a future catastrophe in the form of urban sprawl. While they want to protect this beautiful valley in which we all live, they are actually hurting it.
The guiding document for all development in the Grand Valley — the Comprehensive Plan — has a overlying goal that Grand Junction would “become the most livable community west of the Rockies.” By taking buildable acreage out of the city’s central area, homes are being displaced to a location further from the city’s core, thus they are forcing urban sprawl.
When undeveloped lands get set aside, what happens? What happens to all those people who would have lived there? What happens to the cost for all the utility infrastructure that is now not being utilized, or at the very least under-utilized? Well, it forces people who would have lived on those lands to now live further away. In which case they now drive further to work and the kids walk further to school. We have more streets to maintain, more utility lines to maintain and, you guessed it, more cost.
A 2014 study done by the Lincoln Land Institute on the Detroit metropolitan area shows how vacant land close to downtown contributed to Detroit’s bankruptcy. The cost of those unused and under-used lands close to the core of the city created urban sprawl, which put a tremendous financial strain on the city’s public works budget.
In the case of Monument Road the Bookends project removed two to five homes per acre, or about 300 homes total. These homes would have supported the core infrastructure of the city. Instead, infrastructure will be under-utilized. The cost for this kind of thinking is huge. One cost analysis shows urban sprawl costs 116 percent of the property’s property tax revenue for each impacted acre each year.
Sprawl has many impacts:
Sprawl creates more traffic as we must now drive further to school, further to work, further to shopping, further to church. All of this leads to more miles on the road; more traffic related injuries and fatalities.
Sprawl leads to delays in emergency, medical, police and fire response times as these important services must now drive further to get to population centers.
Sprawl costs more because we put more miles on our cars which leads to more gasoline consumption, more oil consumption and more wear on cars.
Sprawl creates health and environmental impacts through poorer air quality and more inversion induced smog.
Sprawl leads to greater consumption of land, greater consumption of water, and greater consumption of virtually every natural resource.
Sprawl increases utility costs for all of us when we start running utility lines that run past forever vacant land and connects to nothing.
Is there a way we prevent this from happening? How do we keep our city great and protect the natural treasures that are so attractive? It is by “keeping the city in the city.” Protecting the things that we cherish — the Colorado National Monument, the Grand Mesa and the Bookcliffs — means keeping them outside the city boundary. We protect them by keeping the urban core filled with people. We protect them by building a tighter compact city that is efficient and makes sense. In leaving Monument Road undeveloped we are not achieving this goal. We are not following the comprehensive plan; we are in fact running in the face of it.
Land Advisor / Urban Planner
Colorado Land Advisor, Ltd.
Grand Junction, Colorado
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