Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Rural sprawl

  1. #1
    Cyburbian fareastsider's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    33

    Rural sprawl

    I am curious about information or opinions about rural sprawl. This may have an existing definition or field of study but the phenomenon I am talking about is this.
    I suppose it would be the edges of exurbia and beyond, particularly beyond. It would appear this started after 1970 or so. Far outside of the more developed sections of a metro region there are many homes built on 5 to 80+ acres. I enjoy looking at old aerial photographs and I can not help but notice that before the 1970s it seems all that existed for the most part in the rural areas outside of cities were the farmsteads. Many of these new homes dont farm to any large scale but some certainly do lease land to farmers.
    I suppose many reasons have lead to this trend such as improved roadways, longer commute tolerances, desire to be "away from it all". I notice though that is does not seem to matter how far you go into very remote areas, there are a proliferation of homes.
    I find various issues with this type of development such as expectations of municipal services, strains on wells, unnecessary wasting of resources to tie into many long distance residences, etc. It would be difficult to curtail as many issues that a zoning ordinance would look at would be easily met by this type of development and in addition many erural or exurban communities encourage such development. On a personal level it seems that there truly are less and less areas that are truly away from it all. In addition my experience is in the midwest where such development may be easier with distances from expressways and availability of water. It seems all over in the hinterlands are large homes with the necessary over sized pole barns and ponds often with a four wheeler track.
    I would be interested in links to any information/ research into this type of development and anyone's opinions or information on it as well.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Colo Front Range
    Posts
    2,423
    Quote Originally posted by fareastsider View post
    I am curious about information or opinions about rural sprawl. This may have an existing definition or field of study but the phenomenon I am talking about is this.
    I suppose it would be the edges of exurbia and beyond, particularly beyond. It would appear this started after 1970 or so. Far outside of the more developed sections of a metro region there are many homes built on 5 to 80+ acres. I enjoy looking at old aerial photographs and I can not help but notice that before the 1970s it seems all that existed for the most part in the rural areas outside of cities were the farmsteads. Many of these new homes dont farm to any large scale but some certainly do lease land to farmers.
    I suppose many reasons have lead to this trend such as improved roadways, longer commute tolerances, desire to be "away from it all". I notice though that is does not seem to matter how far you go into very remote areas, there are a proliferation of homes.
    I find various issues with this type of development such as expectations of municipal services, strains on wells, unnecessary wasting of resources to tie into many long distance residences, etc. It would be difficult to curtail as many issues that a zoning ordinance would look at would be easily met by this type of development and in addition many erural or exurban communities encourage such development. On a personal level it seems that there truly are less and less areas that are truly away from it all. In addition my experience is in the midwest where such development may be easier with distances from expressways and availability of water. It seems all over in the hinterlands are large homes with the necessary over sized pole barns and ponds often with a four wheeler track.
    I would be interested in links to any information/ research into this type of development and anyone's opinions or information on it as well.
    The reasons why quarter-sections go varies on the region, but parcelization down from there is an indicator of development, and ecologists look for parcel size when seeking open space preservation or risk of fragmentation. As far as social issues go, the land sales for further parcelization are retirement income, debt payment/avoidance, profit, whatever. Stopping land conversion is like stopping the wind, and will be in this country for a generation at least until something changes in this country and the plutocracy goes away.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,565
    Blog entries
    3
    Rural sprawl around here is partly the result of legal and cultural forces:
    • Built out core city.
    • Very restrictive residential zoning in surrounding areas, In areas that aren't zoned for ag or conservation, residential development is mostly limited to single family, large lot (15,000 to 30,000 square foot minimum; usually lot sizes are much larger.) As a result, there's a lot of frontage development in unzoned towns further out. A big part of my job is changing that.
    • Expensive housing close to employment centers, resulting in a "drive to qualify" phenomenon.
    • "Back to the land" living is idealized among a very large segment of the population; five acres, large organic gardens, goats, some on-site energy production and composting, etc. I call this "green sprawl"; those that embrace this lifestyle believe it's more environmentally friendly than urban living, but it's still vehicle dependent, consumes open space and ag land at a fast rate, and very expensive for the communities when it comes to utilities, road maintenance, and so on.


    In researching urban sprawl, I came across some work from by Kirsten Valentine Cadieux, a Canadian geographer. A couple of links to check out:

    http://individual.utoronto.ca/valentine/writing.html
    PRODUCTIVE AND AMENITY RELATIONSHIPS WITH 'NATURE' IN EXURBIA: ENGAGEMENT AND DISENGAGEMENT IN URBAN AGRICULTURE AND THE RESIDENTIAL FOREST http://individual.utoronto.ca/valent...ssertation.pdf
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,684
    Unless the government, either federal or state, is willing to purchase people's land, this process is going to continue because agriculture is disappearing. Much of the land that's being taken up by rural sprawl in NYS is marginal farmland or is close to expressways that allow for "easy" commutes into the cities and outer suburbs. The classic example of this seems to be the area around Springville, NY, where commuters can hop on the 219 expressway and be in Hamburg in half an hour and Buffalo in 45 minutes.

    In upstate NY, the primary agricultural industries are dairy and truck farming. Dairy is fading rapidly because of low milk prices except for organic milk, and truck farming can exist on fairly small parcels that are easy targets for developers as farmers in times past could actually make livings on 30-50 acre farms with vineyards and/or orchards plus strawberries, beans, etc. The largest farms still exist and are still making profits but these guys are milking 200-400 cows with fewer than 10 employees, including part-timers. Except for Welch's cooperative and wineries, the orchard crop and grape industry in NYS would be gone.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 1996
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    14,565
    Blog entries
    3
    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    In upstate NY, the primary agricultural industries are dairy and truck farming. Dairy is fading rapidly because of low milk prices except for organic milk, and truck farming can exist on fairly small parcels that are easy targets for developers as farmers in times past could actually make livings on 30-50 acre farms with vineyards and/or orchards plus strawberries, beans, etc. The largest farms still exist and are still making profits but these guys are milking 200-400 cows with fewer than 10 employees, including part-timers. Except for Welch's cooperative and wineries, the orchard crop and grape industry in NYS would be gone.
    Around here, there's the wineries, of course. However, there's also a very strong locavore movement, and small-scale artisanal farms and CSAs are extremely popular.

    Ever see this scene from Portlandia?



    It's not that far from reality here. Local restaurant menus are liberally peppered with the word "local", and sometimes the names of the farms where the ingredients are sourced.

    The back-to-the-land Baby Boomers are still more vocal, and more affluent, than the more urban-leaning MIllennials. Still, there seems to be some growing recognition of the disconnect from even "green sprawl"; that if you place such a high priority on rural character, preserving the viability of agricultural uses, and so on, you're not going to save those areas by enabling development there, or idealizing a permie lifestyle. Demographics might place the brakes on rural sprawl. Millennials generally don't idealize rural living, and they probably won't be able to afford it.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Jamestown, New York
    Posts
    1,684
    I think what you say, Dan, is true for areas close to big and medium sized metros, but I think it's much less true for the predominantly rural areas around small cities/large towns unless there's an unusual reason for it -- like a very large university dominating the local economy. The rural roots of so many people in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany Counties run very deep because they haven't been cut off from them for very long. There are a lot of people in this part of the state who still live on working farms, live on land that was once their families' working farms, or just live out in the country because they were raised in the country. Frequently, grandpa who was a farmer will give children or grandchildren two to five acre lots. A few wells, septics, and double-wides later, there's an entire little development along the road. These people aren't driving 30 to 50 miles to work but maybe 5 or 7 miles into towns like Gowanda or Arcade or cities like Dunkirk or Jamestown or Olean.

    Most young people escape these areas to go to the "big cities" (ie, Buffalo, Erie, Pittsburgh, Rochester, etc) as they've been doing for more than a century. The young people who choose to stay in these rural areas aren't interested in being urban. They may live in Jamestown or Olean because they they work there, but they have some land near Ellington or Leon or Cuba that they intend to eventually move to. Sometimes, some of those young people who left after high school for "the city" decide that living in the boonies isn't so bad and eventually come home.

    Quote Originally posted by fareastsider View post
    I am curious about information or opinions about rural sprawl. This may have an existing definition or field of study but the phenomenon I am talking about is this.
    I suppose it would be the edges of exurbia and beyond, particularly beyond. It would appear this started after 1970 or so. Far outside of the more developed sections of a metro region there are many homes built on 5 to 80+ acres. I enjoy looking at old aerial photographs and I can not help but notice that before the 1970s it seems all that existed for the most part in the rural areas outside of cities were the farmsteads. Many of these new homes dont farm to any large scale but some certainly do lease land to farmers.
    I suppose many reasons have lead to this trend such as improved roadways, longer commute tolerances, desire to be "away from it all". I notice though that is does not seem to matter how far you go into very remote areas, there are a proliferation of homes.
    I find various issues with this type of development such as expectations of municipal services, strains on wells, unnecessary wasting of resources to tie into many long distance residences, etc. It would be difficult to curtail as many issues that a zoning ordinance would look at would be easily met by this type of development and in addition many erural or exurban communities encourage such development. On a personal level it seems that there truly are less and less areas that are truly away from it all. In addition my experience is in the midwest where such development may be easier with distances from expressways and availability of water. It seems all over in the hinterlands are large homes with the necessary over sized pole barns and ponds often with a four wheeler track.
    I would be interested in links to any information/ research into this type of development and anyone's opinions or information on it as well.
    I think when rural sprawl began depended upon how viable commuting into towns was. I was perusing the 1940 census of my hometown and was shocked to find that my road was already made up of families in which most of the rural people for the first two miles out of town depended upon working in town rather than on farming. Gowanda in 1940 had a large tannery and glue factory plus a state mental hospital and a tuberculosis hospital. It was a major commerce center for the area with lots of jobs for the population density. Most of the families along my road were either Eastern European immigrants or the children of such immigrants who made some money working in the businesses in town, and used that to buy homes in the country.

    Keep in mind, too, that large parts of the Midwest, particularly the Plains, were devastated by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the rural areas were depopulated. That didn't happen as much in other parts of the country. Midwestern, western, and southern cities have been growing much faster than eastern and Great Lakes cities since the 1950s as well. WW II brought lots of new migrants to the cities, but many of them were rural people who sought to eventually return to rural areas.

    I've seen this with my family. My grandparents were farmers, all their children fled to Buffalo, Rochester, and LA (although my parents moved back), and about half of my cousins now live in third ring suburbs or exurbia. We're NOT "back to the land" hippy types, just people who remember summers on our grandparents' farm or growing up on one and wanted to live that life-style and share it with our children.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Replies: 9
    Last post: 27 Oct 2011, 3:46 AM
  2. Rural Australia
    Rural and Small Town Planning
    Replies: 2
    Last post: 07 Sep 2010, 5:53 PM
  3. Replies: 17
    Last post: 06 Jul 2009, 11:28 AM
  4. Hello from the rural midwest
    Introduce Yourself
    Replies: 6
    Last post: 29 Jul 2007, 8:05 PM
  5. Replies: 1
    Last post: 19 Mar 1999, 1:53 PM