Thursday, June 27, 2002

'Smart growth' leaders push for better planning in Warren

By Cindi Andrews,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The president of a nonprofit agency that advocates better planning points to Middletown Regional Hospital's proposed move to Warren County as an example of “what not to do.”

        The forum Wednesday night on “smart growth“ played to a packed house at the old Warren County courthouse.

        “Smart growth principles would say it's better to have a complex like that in an urban center,” said Catherine Hartman, president of the Smart Growth Coalition of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

        “But that's not the urban center anymore, and that's the problem,” responded Lebanon resident Steve Butts. Services need to move to serve the moving population, he said.

        The smart-growth theory frames the hospital's proposed move to Turtlecreek Township as encroaching on a rural region while abandoning the city of Middletown.

        “You get ghost towns in the middle and doughnut development,” Ms. Hartman said.

        The Smart Growth Coalition is a 2-year-old nonprofit formed to spread the word about ways to plan and control growth. The group asked the audience of more than 60 people to rate slides of Turtlecreek and Lebanon scenes. Farmland got the highest rating, and parking lots and treeless subdivisions scored low. The findings will be compiled by the coalition and sent to local officials.

        “If we don't plan, we're not sure what we're going to get,” Ms. Hartman said.

        Among coalition goals:

        • Concentrating development in specific areas.

        • Preserving farmland and open space. One way to do that, Ms. Hartman said, is to create agricultural districts with minimum lot sizes of 50 to 100 acres so the acreage stays farmland. Conservation easements are another option.

        • Providing transportation alternatives and easing congestion. More pedestrian paths and grid layouts in neighborhoods would help, the coalition says.


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