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Monday, November 17, 2003

Follow through on greenbelt
Two weeks ago, Ann Arbor voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal B, allowing the city to purchase property and development rights in surrounding townships, hoping to maintain some open space and cut down on the traffic and pollution caused by sprawl. Two UM professors argue that the city should follow through and encourage higher density within the city. I think they're right. Here's an excerpt:

The first principle of the Smart Growth movement is that regional problems require regional solutions. Now that Ann Arbor voters have approved the greenbelt proposal, city leaders and local environmentalists must promote the agenda of affordable housing, infill development and higher urban density with as much passion as they have demonstrated in the battle to contain suburban sprawl.

Many of the commuters who are clogging city streets and polluting our air and water are working-class and middle-income people who cannot afford to live in Ann Arbor but nevertheless make up the service economy that in turn sustains our lifestyles. Graduate students at U-M are increasingly forced to live outside the city, in locations where rental prices are lower but mass transit is inadequate
Trying to prevent sprawl on the suburban fringe while maintaining Ann Arbor's low-density residential landscape is incompatible with a sustainable development approach to the metropolitan region. Refusing to accept any changes to the "character of our neighborhoods" is ultimately a short-sighted and self-defeating strategy that will accelerate the quality-of-life decline caused by traffic jams and pollution of the air and water.
(whole article)