Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation

Urban Sprawl and Quality Growth in Ohio

Samuel Staley and Matthew Hisrich
December 1, 2001

Executive Summary

Urban sprawl has surged to the forefront of local policy debate in Ohio. Concerns about the loss of open space, farm productivity, traffic congestion, and rising public-service costs have led many to demand more government control over land development. On the state level, concern about sprawl has led to large-scale government funding for open space protection and environmental clean-up as well as new planning mandates to protect agriculture. On the local level, more communities are adopting restrictive growth control policies to slow the pace of development.

Little data or objective analysis, however, has been applied to the issue of land use and urban development in Ohio. Most media and growth-control advocates rely on slogans and faulty intuition to support calls for more comprehensive planning on the local and regional level. For example, many define urban sprawl as the uncoordinated or unplanned development, yet virtually all new housing and commercial development is subject to extensive public hearings and development approval procedures on the local or county levels.

This study provides a rational analysis of economic, demographic, and land-use trends in Ohio and their relationship to key concerns all Ohioans have about the pace and pattern of land development in Ohio. Among the study’s key findings are the following:

Land and Urban Development in Ohio

Ohio’s Agriculture and Farmland

Suburbanization and Infrastructure Costs

Transportation Issues in Ohio

The Environmental Effects of Suburbanization

“Smart” Growth . . .

. . . and its Better Alternatives

Samuel Staley is Research Fellow

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