The Boston Globe recently reported on Mass Audubon’s Losing Ground report. This study of development patterns in Massachusetts found that between 2005 and 2013, the Commonwealth lost 13 acres of open space—per day!—to development. That amounts to a loss of nearly 38,000 acres of open space in an eight-year period.
As real estate development picks up in light of our state’s recovery from the recession, it’s likely this loss of land will only increase. Why? Because our state’s current zoning laws make it easier for developers to create low-density sprawl instead of the walkable, vibrant communities with nearby amenities and public transportation in which Massachusetts residents want to live.
But development and conservation of open space don’t have to be at odds with each other. Our zoning laws need to be updated to facilitate smarter growth patterns, from Plymouth to Pittsfield. Sprawl costs our state in so many ways. Infrastructure is more costly to build and maintain in sprawling subdivisions. Public health suffers when residents get around by car instead of by foot, bike, or mass transit. And our environment pays a steep price—from loss of open space to more carbon emissions produced by a car-centric community. There’s currently a bill pending in the Legislature that would incentivize our communities to grow smart and we need your help getting it passed by the legislature this month. Learn more here and contact your legislators to let them know that smart planning is important to your community.
Thank you to Mass Audubon for supporting Zoning Reform in Massachusetts, and for highlighting the cost of sprawl in our state.