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Thread: Cost of sprawl - seeking thesis help

  1. #1
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
    Mar 2006
    Machesney Park, IL

    Cost of sprawl - seeking thesis help

    I've been procrastinating, but I really should get my thesis going, so my graduate school coursework isn't all for nothing. My topic has been approved, I've been working on the literature review for awhile, but I'm still trying to nail down a methodology.

    Where I live, and use to work, in Winnebago County, IL there are some awful sprawling residential developments and the county board keeps approving more and more. They see these new homes as a boost to the economy (construction jobs, generate more taxes than farmland, etc). The population isn't growing enough to justify all the new homes, smaller school districts are facing major overcrowding and budget constraints, the new roads in these subdivisions go to heck in a few years and aren't property maintained, these homes are usually on well and septic, probably causing irreversible groundwater damage... the actual costs for these sprawling developments go on and on. I would like, through my thesis, to prove to the county board that the costs of these developments outweigh the gains. Specificly, I'm thinking of focusing on schools, emergency services and road maintenance. People getting fat, environmental degredation, and all the other costs of sprawl aren't as measurable.

    Any ideas? All thoughts are appreciated.

  2. #2
    Jan 2004
    If you've done a lit review, then you're probably aware of this book, but Robert Burchell's "Fiscal Impact Handbook" lays out pretty detailed methodology.

    All I can say is that it's going to take a lot of interviews with principles, police officers, etc.. but it sounds like a great project.

    Also, American Farmland Trust has a number of more generalized "Cost of Service" studies out there that you can look at... they are much more general than a more detailed fiscal impact analysis, but they might be more in line with the thesis. Again, get started with your interviews.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
    Nov 2004
    Austin, TX
    Dang... don't y'all have the "non-thesis" option?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003
    Quote Originally posted by jread
    Dang... don't y'all have the "non-thesis" option?
    I did and was very happy not doing one.
    I made up for it by working two internships - no credit (one for pay other volunteer)

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    May 2005
    New Town
    Check out this report by 1000 Friends of New Mexico - a non-profit that promotes "smart growth" and a better planned approach to accommodating growth in an area where land on the fringe is cheap, cheap, cheap.


    There is a whole section in there on quantifying the costs of different types of growth - infrastructure costs, regulatory costs, capital costs, etc. It focuses specifically on Santa Fe County as the example.

    Good Luck!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  6. #6
    Cyburbian H's avatar
    Feb 2003
    EDIT: Nevermind. I guess the attachement is too big. Anyway, I have a Florida paper called "Effects and Costs of Sprawl". PM me you email if you want it and I will send it to you.

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