Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Density Does Work, Rotary Club of Lancaster is Told

The members of the Rotary Club of Lancaster listened to a presentation, Wednesday afternoon, by Metta Barbour, Executive Director of the Lancaster Coalition for Smart Growth.

The 5-Year old Coalition for Smart Growth, Barbour explained, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization devoted to promoting responsible growth management in Lancaster County.

Barbour spoke of the need for intelligently balancing the urgency of protecting agriculture and farmland with the inevitability of growth.

"'No growth' is not an option," she said. "Balance is the key to growth management in Lancaster County."

In order to achieve balance, Barbour continued, we need to set targets.

"Lancaster has enough land to accommodate about 20 years worth of growth at the current rate," she said.

The answer, Barbour suggested, is making development more "compact."

"Density can create vibrant, great places to live," she said. "Density that is well-designed creates great neighborhoods and attracts a growing market segment."

"As a matter of fact, trees can be one of the most important elements for communities," she said.

Barbour continued, "Density creates transportation choices when density is more than 7 homes per acre. Density means fewer trips, shorter trips, and less dependence on cars."

"Higher-density development also requires less infrastructure," she argued.

Barbour pointed to Summit Hills in Mountville as "an example of where density supports property values."

Lancaster Countians are concerned about high-density developments, evidenced perhaps most strongly by East Hempfield's recent rejection of a proposed Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) ordinance.

Others are supportive of such plans.

"Where will our kids go?" asked James Miller, who is also on the Lancaster County Planning Commission. "Do we as a Community want to provide housing and opportunities in Lancaster County for our future generations? That's the broader question that we should be prepared to answer as a community."