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Why Do We Need Smart Growth in the Richmond Region?
Central Virginians enjoy a wealth of cultural and natural benefits. The counties that surround the state’s capital city are blessed with beautiful rolling hills, lush forests, and a quality of life that is cherished by many. Recently however, development patterns that have traditionally been seen as benign, are beginning to dismantle the fabric of our communities across the region.
In recent years our region has consumed more land at a faster rate than any major metropolitan area in the state. Between 2000 and 2010, each of the region's localities saw growth. Click here for a map showing the rate of population growth for each city and county.
Our region “developed more land in the five years between '92 and '97 than it had in the previous ten, converting an average of 11,760 acres each year. The region is developing an average of 32 acres per day or 1.3 acres every hour. If land continues to be developed at this rate, approximately 294,000 acres will be developed over the next 20 years, an area over seven times the size of the City of Richmond. This would mean that the region would develop more land in 20 years than it had in the previous 400." (SELC) Approximately 21,500 acres have been developed in Chesterfield County between 2000 - 2008. The amount of land in farms has declined 45% in Powhatan and 30% in Henrico between 2002 and 2007.
Land consumed for suburban sprawl also creates a landscape that is entirely dependent upon automobile use. Traffic congestion, higher taxes to pay for schools, utilities, and services, and a diminished public realm are the consequences for allowing growth to continue unchecked. Without appropriate and thoughtful planning of our natural and built environments, our quality of life will continue to be diminished.
We need smarter growth to ensure and protect the quality of life our region holds so dear.