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Sad. Those damn developers!

Posted by DBockwoldt Illinois (My Page) on
Tue, May 3, 05 at 22:21

Does anyone get depressed when they see a beautiful woodland being chopped down to make way for a stupid subdivision??

My area of town (suburban Chicagoland) has been under developer attack for some time now, and I just cringe to see all these trees going.

It makes me want to move to Maine where I can hide out in the forest....

Denise


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Yes, most of us sad folks hang out on the Natives forum. Cause not only are beautiful woodlands being destroyed, so are native plants.

Where do all these people come from? Where were they living before that? And of course we all need a nail salon/drugstore/dry cleaners/coffee shop within 2 miles of us!


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

This thread is interesting b/c I 'do' live in an urban development that 'used' to be a woodlot. My husband and I were just discussing this very issue last weekend and talked about how sometimes we feel guilty that we moved into a place where there was once a "fairly nice" woods. Our street and a few others were developed on what used to be a second or third generation farmer's woodlot. It is now "Potter's Woods" homes. I guess we can't feel too guilty because it was already here when we built our house so it's not like we bought the land ourselves and tore down the trees to put streets and then houses but still... every time a new foundation goes in, a few more trees are accidentally felled or damaged by the heavy machinery and then have to be taken down.

But on the flipside, although it's not a perfect solution, the city is quite cognisent of what is going on in order to put streets and houses in and they have done a fair job of enforcing some rules. In our subdivision, for every tree over a certain diameter that is felled during clearing of lots, a new tree of equal calliper has to be replaced somewhere on the property. Additionally, before you buy a lot here you have to sign a contract with the developer that you will perform certain tasks, as well as abide by the rules set up in the contract. Here are just a few off the top of my head:

There will be no structures such as sheds, doghouses/runs, play equiptment, trailers etc. placed in the green zone (30' wooded area in each lot's backyard).

Signees will not fell any tree in the greenzone without express written permission from the city which will only be granted in the event that a tree is diseased beyond treatment or is posing a danger to the residents of this or surrounding lots.

If a tree is felled due to disease or danger, the signee will replace the tree with no less than "x" calliper tree of the same species.

Nothing is to be attached to trees in the green zone.

Ground cover and plants/shrubs are not to be removed.

Signees shall strive to improve the integrity of the woodlot greenzone by continueing to plant trees/shrubs/plants of a native variety and extend the woodlot forward into the developed area of each lot. (in this section the contract provides garden-plans that show examples of how to create a "natural succession" that extends trees and plants into the formal space of each lot. For each house/lot in the subdivision there is a "sample plan" on how to do this giving a list of native trees, shrubs and plants that can be used.

All houses have to conform to specific colours and textures to blend with the natural surroundings: ie. all our shingles on the roof have to be the same and the colour is chosen by the city and we can not deviate from that when we need to replace them. They are basically the colour of tree bark (grey mixed with shades of brown). The same with our bricks and sidings...we had limited choices with the colours being in the browns, tans and earth colours.

For the frontage of our homes we are again urged through the contract, but not bound by it, to continue to plant native plantings that would have been previously found in the woodlot and the city and developer have contracted to place one calliper tree of a native species at the front/boulevard of each lot on all the streets. If you happen to be home when the city comes with the trees you can pick what species you want planted on your boulevard otherwise they just pick one. Walking around the neighborhood we see a lot of maples, tulip tree, oak and others so we are pleased with this part of the plan.

We also have greenzones (full lots) that appear every so often throughout the neighborhood which are essentially just lots that will never be allowed to sell as property and must remain in the condition they were prior to development(fully wooded). These greenzones are managed by the city and developer and are never groomed and are not to be tampered with by adjacent lot owners.

The contract has chapters on how to plant to entice wildlife, what trees/shrubs/plants are native to our city and surrounding area and how to identify alien invasives and species such as poison ivy.

Those are just a small sampling of what the contract entails. It was quite a daunting contract to read through as it is about 1/4 inch thick of paper but we were pleased with the efforts that the city and developer were making to turn a negative thing into something a bit better for the environment as well as the 'some' of the wildlife that would otherwise be displaced by the construction.

We often laugh at some of the goings on that regularly occur here because although there is still room for improvement in the contract, it has done a lot of good for inviting "nature" back to the area. We *are* in the city with major roadways all around us, yet we constantly have groundhogs in our yards, we have had several species of ducks muching our grass taking short stopovers for a nibble. We've had tundra swans walking across our front lawns and resting in the sun, we get loads of birds, we have tons of squirrels, we've seen a few raccoons sneaking around our campfires (we are allowed to apply to the city for a fire-pit permit) and the only thing I wonder about is all the frogs. We had tons of frogs last year but with all the new houses built they have lost their wet spots and I don't know if frogs can exist without their little pools of water. Our contract allows for ponds on the groomed portion of our lots but does not allow ponds to extend into the greenzone (30' green space). Probably about 20-30% of the houses have ponds but we don't care to have one as we just don't have time for the care and maintenence.

All in all, I guess if urban sprawl has to happen, then something such as these "contracts" are better than having developers cut everything down and start with blank canvases. At least this way as much of the woods is preserved and then a renewall project is started via the contract and participation between the owner, the developer and the city.

Here where I live (Southern Ontario) we are extremely densely populated. Look on a map and note the tiny triangle of space located between Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron. In that tiny little space of land, lives almost 1/3 of the entire population of our entire HUGE country. Urban sprawl into forested areas is inevitable. Restoration projects similar to the contract we had to sign are becoming more and more common here. We are seeing more and more plant/tree nurseries catering to native plants/trees to specific areas, horticultural and naturist societies are extremely popular and I think, over all, even though natural spaces are being depleated by growing populations that people 'are' making an effort. I also think there is room to improve vastly on these efforts and the only way to encourage improvements is to be pro-active in your respective communities by forming neighborhood naturist/horticulture groups, actively persuing changes to city and development regulations and by simply just doing your own part on your tiny parcel of land. On a broader scale, there are also awards given to villages and cities who make the best efforts to maintain and improve the "green quality" of their space. The city where I currently live has won "Communities in Bloom" three years in a row and has other awards under it's belt such as the "City Beautiful" award and has fundraising events to green up the city each year. All new subdivisions have calliper trees planted along boulevards at each lot as soon as sidewalks are in place. Citizens just have to put pressure on their elected officials to make changes that benefit the environment if things aren't looking so good.

Moving to the woods would work for a while but others would soon follow and soon after that area would also be impacted negatively. There's no good soloutions to our booming populations. No matter what we do or where we do it, our existence here is going to make an impact on the environment and I'm really not sure what the *best* solution really is.

Regards,

Barb
s/w Ontario


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

  • Posted by KWoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Wed, May 4, 05 at 10:41

As my six year old daughter would say "stinkers".


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

I was listening to a story on NPR this morning about a development trying to move forward in the Maine woods - so that refuge may not be as readily available soon. I live in one of the fastest growing counties in Michigan and am watching farmland and wooded lots being built up faster than the infrastructure to support it. The 120 acres across my road has recently been surveyed. It is mostly low lying woodlands so I may need to accelerate some of my plant rescue. I am in the process of letting my 5 acres return to woodlands. Some naturaly and some planting of native species. Both of my neighbors are letting theirs go as well. If nothing else we will create a 20 acre green zone.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Barb, what a great list of regulations. Is your development online somewhere? I'd like to read the whole 1/4" document.


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Barb, actually concentrating homes into a small area and leaving vast amounts of shared greenspace would seem to be ideal. That leaves large tracts of woodland available to birds and other wildlife and creates urban structures and surfaces only in a defined area.


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I can understand why people get upset to see woods being cut down for development. On the other hand, as someone who grew up in a suburban subdivision and liked it, I don't feel like I have the right to say that more people shouldn't be able to move out into suburbs and have their own houses, lawns, etc.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Susan, no they don't have anything online that I'm aware of in fact even though we had to sign the contract before putting our money down on the lot, we weren't allowed to see the contract until the closing date of the home/property. I bugged and bugged them to let me see it but they guarded it like it was gold in fort knox until the final closing date. I have it in my file cabinet upstairs if anyone is interested in more of the rules. We were pleased with the "idea" of it but my question is "who exactly is going to enforce it if you get some yahoo's moving in who totally ignore the contract? It's the old "it looks good on paper buuuuut..." Not to knock it because it IS a step in the right direction for sure but as the skeptic that I am, I want to see who steps up to the plate when the rules start getting bent and broken.

Esh, yes, the shared greenspaces are very nice. My husband and I are avid birders so we look forward to the different birds that visit at each season and the green spaces certainly help to lure the migrating birds to our little "woods in the city" space. We really lucked out with this location because my husband grew up in the country and I'm a city-girl so it's a compromise that suits both of us. It will be nice if this trend continues in future developments but I'm not sure since I'm guessing this is a bit of a pilot project for our city. This is the only development so far that is like it where lots are not sold in order to keep them green. As a result our taxes are heart-stoppingly high (gotta pay for those empty lots somehow I guess) and I'm just not sure how many people will be willing to pay those prices for what (sadly) most people see as a "bunch of trees".

Barb


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

There is no answer to this. The problem is with population, and no one is addressing that issue. We are a species gone awry, like a cancer, and we won't stop until we destroy everything. We can try to allow for greenspaces, but it in no way can make up for the millions of acres converted from farmland, forest and fields.
I too am living in one of the fastest growing areas in Indiana. It's shameful. What other animal or plant or anything could reproduce at the rate we're reproducing at, without us viewing it as deadly?
I'm afraid I'm not very optimistic about our futures.
I believe in my heart, than homo sapiens are just plain short-sited and destructive, and I'd rather be something else.


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I hear a lot of complaining around here too about growth and loss of trees etc. Once I asked one of the loudest complainers I knew, how many kids he had. Let's see. He himself moved here from Michigan, and his wife from Hawaii, and then they had 6 (SIX!) kids. And they dare to complain about population growth!

Where did all those people come from?? You know darn well where they came from. All those cute little babies grow up to be adults and want a home of their own. And another pacel of 6 kids of their own.

Oh I can't believe those regulations you have in ONtario! truly insightful. One problem we have here in WA is something called the Growth Management Act, which restricts development to designated urban growth areas. Outside of those areas no commercial/industrial development is allowed that is not compatible with a rural atmosphere, and residential development cannot exceed one house per 5 acres. It was intended to solve the problem of runaway suburban sprawl but has caused its own problems.

For one thing, one to five is not enough to maintain native ecosystems. Everyone gets their five acre plot then immediately logs off all the trees and hydroseeds with pasture grass. Travesty! Then the other problem becoming apparent now is that development inside urban growth areas is becoming so dense and unpleasant that MORE people are moving to the rural areas on their 5 acre lots. Houses in town are cheek by jowl. Older houses are being bulldozed to subdivide the lot into several smaller ones, each one filled entirely by its house. I can't live like that myself so I live in the rural residential areas, displacing pasture and timber.

And when newly urbanized areas are developed, the required density makes it impractical to keep the pre existing trees as the roots will be too severely damaged during construction. So the 50-100 yr old conifers that WA is famous for are being removed, to be replaced by ... non native broad leafed deciduous shade trees. Pin oak, red maple, flowering cherry, purple leaf plum. It's not at all the same, ecologically or aesthetically.

So the solutions have their own problems.

Before you go damning the developers, consider your own impact on the land. What was there before your house was built? What did you displace? How big is your ecological footprint, as far as land you've removed from native habitat, kids you've produced, resources you consume? Are the newcomers doing anything worse than you've already done?

Sure I'm sad when I see trees come down, or prairie plowed up, or wetlands filled in, but what's the alternative? All those people have to live somewhere. We have to learn to integrate ourselves into something more accomodating like Barb's place in Ontario. But here in the US it would go against most people's grain to try to have someting like that. Can't you just hear the screams about Private Propery Rights? That right there is our biggest stumbling block to greater ecological health - our concept of private property rights.


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I love to hear people complain about developers. Who the heck do you think built the house/street you live in. It's the old "I got mine, everyone is stay away". My town passed a moritorium on development because everyone wanted the beautiful farms and natural areas. Then they passed laws preventing the farmers from using sluge to fertilize thereby making it too expensive to farm the land. Then the farmers got together and sued the town, and won, and cost each taxpayer in town around $2500. And had the moritorium lifted, and now all the farmers have sold their land to developers, and we have even more houses being built. Sometimes the problem with conservationist is that they can't see the tree beyond the forest. And why is it that we are the only species on earth that isn't considered part of nature? When locust wipe out the vegetation, is that somehow different than when humans do it. Are we so vain as to think at some point, something isn't going to wipe us out? Is evolution a one way street? Can it be that only new species evolve, and yet none die out? Who would be there to protect the cockroach, mosiquito,fly or rat if it were endangered? I am not an arguement seeker, but rather one who likes to think deeper than the latest propaganda published by greenpeace and their like. If you'd like to know how well conservationist have done in some of their efforts, research what has gone on in yellowstone park for the last 150 years.


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I just don't go for the "I got mine, now you can't have your's" thing. There comes a point when life can't continue the way it did 100+ years ago. Yes, I live out in the country, and don't want growth out here.......but it's a larger understanding of what's coming, and hopefully a more holistic perception of the future. It's just like saying we should let everyone immigrate to the U.S., because this is what we've always done. Well, at some point, we have to think of the overall consequences.
I like to compare everything to a family. What if every family had a bunch of kids. Not all of them had adquate space, or food, or opportunities? Would it make sense to just keep adopting and adopting and adopting and adopting??
There's several small towns around here, that were very quaint and neat. Now, there's thousands of homes around them. What happens to the neat little town? It is destroyed.
I resent when people say to me "You have yours, now you don't want anyone else to have anything"......I would NEVER in my life, move to a subdivision that had wall-to-wall houses that had destroyed a forest. NEVER.
And most of the people who move into those massive "rural" subdivisions have absolutely no interest in living simply and in harmony with the other species around them. It's all about greed and selfishness and a total lack of insight.
Yes, I'm aware of my impact on the land..........but I certainly live more simply than a large majority of the population. I consider everything before I make a choice.
Yes, I see developers as evil. And their lawyers. To me, it's quite obvious why a person would feel this way.......except to the people who live in these monstrosities that they develop.
Ours is a rural community. 7 miles from here, a developer is putting in a 1700 acre city. I will probably eventually be run out of my home.
I think it's nuts to wipe the land clean and think you can replant a few trees, and it's the same.
But.......like Sara Stein advocated, I think it's a great idea for entire neighborhoods to leave 10-20 feet of their back yards to nature, so that you have a large "wild" section all through the entire neighborhood. But people usually don't want to "let their yards go".......but it's a great idea.


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There are smart building techniques, smart growth, and impact-reducing subdivisions. All of these cut into profits if they are not techniques developers/construction crews are used to. Customers demands are the best ways to motivate change. So, talk to your friends, your children, your coworkers about the value of old trees, the importance of habitat, and the benefits of good urban planning.


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Wow..Catherine T. those are strong apsersions you cast on people who live in different living arrangements than you do. I wouldn't want to live elbow to elbow with people either but there's nothing wrong with people wanting to do it if they want to. That's the beauty of living in a free society such as you have in the USA and I have here in Canada. That's not to say that we are doing a good job at preserving our national treasures such as the nature around us and our precious environments. Society is evolving right along with the rest of natural world and unfortunately we are so pig headed as a species that we ARE likely destined for the way of the dinosaur unless we change our ways dramatically but it's easier as they say to catch flies with honey than it is to catch'em with vinegar. Those interested need to take a leadership role, become politically active to prevent devastation of wild areas for development, offer the urban folks with no clue the opportunities to join neighborhood or citywide clubs that promote the greening of their livingspaces and appreciation for the beauty and benefits of nature and so on. One day those homes WILL be on your doorstep and then what? It's unlikely but hypothetically, what WOULD you do if there was no option for you to live in a rural area away from the hustle and bustle where trees are a hundred years old and plants are all naturalized and birds have acres and acres of living space to choose from? The reason I ask is because I'm curious but also because this will some day be the reality in a few hundred years. Green spaces will likely be relegated to the uninhabitable regions of the continent as well as MAYBE the larger government regulated sanctuaries and green spaces but it's bound to happen eventually. Canada is a bit different in that most of it's 10 million square kilometers are still uninhabited but there's a reason for that and people just aren't prepared to live under the harsh conditions that these uninhabited regions provide. But this too will be inevitable. Without a communist-like approach to society's exploding populations, there is little that will change what is happening in terms of population unless something catastrophic occurs such as a plague-like series of diseases or nuclear warfare, neither of which I'm too keen on as a population control measure.

Barb


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

  • Posted by KWoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Fri, May 6, 05 at 15:18

Best to try not to judge others, just tread as softly as possible yourself and teach your two (thus zero population growth;o)) kids to do the same.

That being said I still think developers are "stinkers" ;o)


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

I think that the "expanding population" problem is usually overstated. The rate of population increase in most parts of the world is going steadily down, even in most areas where people still have large families. I read somewhere that if current trends continue, the world's population may stop growing around 2050-2060.

As more people become more prosperous, they are going to want better living conditions, both in developed and in developing countries. Many people are going to want a house and cars of their own rather than living in cramped apartments. This is going to be a serious problem from an environmental perspective, but I just can't see how people who already live in their own houses with a lot of land can say "no". One way or another, development is inevitable. As someone pointed out, humans aren't really all that different from any other living thing in trying to expand and use as many resources as they can.

Having said that, there is a great deal about the way development is usually done that could be changed to reduce the severity of the impact on the environment. I see that as the only way to achieve some kind of compromise. At least attitudes are starting to change for some people.


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Maybe I'm just living in one of the fastest growing areas of the U.S., but it sounds like it's happening everywhere.
I have only heard about 3 other people, besides myself, speak out about trying to protect some of our wonderful treasures here in this county, so I'm not too hopeful. I'd say it's a very ignorant, unenlightened county (and state).
I wouldn't mind nearly as much if the developers and the zillions of people moving to huge subdivisions in the country appears to have any interest at all, in the environment or any other species. I have to agree that humans are just like any other animal, in that we are hard-wired to reproduce, reproduce, reproduce. But something seems to have happened, to upset the balance. What other animals totally destroy their environment? What other animals make mountains of trash? There are natural checks and balances with all the other species (at least until man came on the scene), but homo sapiens seem to have interfered with those checks and balances, and now we're all living forever, we're saving everyone from dying until an old age, and we're helping people who would have died off from some affliction, reproduce.
I just feel in my heart, that the way we are living in just wrong. It's like an aberrancy, a mutation.
I wouldn't mind nearly as much, if all the masses of people moving to these huge subdivisions had any inkling at all of what's outside their door, other than malls and sports arenas and restaurants and movie theaters, etc.. We're just such an ignorant lot. And we have just enough brains to do major damage to our planet.
I really believe that we could all live quite comfortably, happily, healthily and richly, if we just lived differently. I don't think anyone (or government) will deal with slowing down the population...which I think is absolutely necessary for better health of everyone.
But it's the greed and ignorance that will bring it all down. We could all have running water, and heat in the winter, and lots of food, and our kids could have great educations, and be safe. We could just have it all, and still do it in a way that was so much simpler, and less excessive and destructive..........but so many of the Americans that I know, just don't have the insight to realize the consequences of all their choices and actions. They feel that everything is owed to them.

I have 2 kids and have tried to raise them with an environmental consciousness. But they are probably the only 2 kids in their entire school who even think of the environment. They are made fun of if they collect others' bottles for recycling, or if they suggest the softball team bring re-usable water bottles, instead of disposable ones. These are the simplest of notions, but our people just can't bring themselves to be inconvenienced. My daughter, who is a senior, is probably the ONLY senior in her school who doesn't have her own car. She doesn't, because of our beliefs about things, not because we can't afford one.
When the kids were in gradeschool, it was just commonplace to kill an insect if you saw one. A group of boys even tortured a frog. Why don't these kids have any respect for anything, and view all non-humans as the enemy?
I'm sorry I'm on a tangent here. I just feel so submerged in ignorance around here, that I just have no patience left. And when these kinds of people move out here, into homes they can barely afford, and expect the farmers' hogs to not smell, or they want to ride up and down all the roads with their motorcycles and 4-wheelers, and disturb my peace, then I'm going to be ticked off.
People move in around here, and cut everything down, and grow grass. There is a huge subdivision that ruined a heron rookery. Nobody cared. Walmarts go in to wetlands, and nobody cares. All they want is to be able to buy everything imaginable, and only drive 5 minutes to it, and then throw it into the earth when they're done with it.
I better stop. I'm just extremely disappointed in mankind at this point.


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If you are going to complain about the destruction of our natural spaces, and rightfully so, then also complain about immigration, which fuels development more than a couple having a large family, which is fairly rare these days.


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I agree. I mentioned that in one of my other posts above. Anything that causes unchecked population should be considered.


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good post Catherine. In agreement here!


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over population is the problem. its as simple as that. people having more than 2 kids contribute to this. there will never be a law forcing people to not have more than 5 kids if they want. once we start using up all the resources then the population will start shrinking again but i think many animal species will be extinct from loss of habitat, etc. every year billions of acres of forest get developed for malls and housing but you'll never see an apartment complex torn down and woods planted in its place.


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There's a thought - has anyone read the story about how Central Park in New York came to be? It was the ugliest mess of an area that they transformed.

Not that Central Park is the equivalent of putting woods back, but the area on which it was developed was swampy, unbuildable land with shantytowns and shacks.


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Maine is no refuge. My sister, who lives in Maine, recently served on a jury considering the case of a defendant who had taken a chain saw to his neighbor's trees in order to 'improve' his view. The neighbor found his trees cut, called the police who had no trouble figuring out the culprit since when they looked up they could see that the cut over area formed a path to the neighbor's house! He had lopped huge limbs off some trees and clear-cut a wide swath. His defense: he 'thought' there was a right of way somewhere. Jury found for the plaintiff and the defendant had to pay to have large trees replanted including some that had their branches cut off since they could not decide on any way to glue them back on!
"Against stupidity, the gods themselves are helpless."


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I inherited my property several years ago, which was part of a farm. The property taxes were reasonable while the property was being farmed. As soon as it was divided between the heirs, the property taxes went sky high. Of course, none of us farm, nor have equipment to do that. My portion is wooded and so therefore, the only way to reduce my taxes would be to cut down the timber in what the "powers that are" call "forestry management". Well, I just can't do it, so as long as I can afford the taxes, which isn't easy to come up with, I will leave the trees. However, I see the day when we can't afford them and our only options will be to either cut the timber, or sell the property. If we cut the timber, we will be cutting some of the largest poplar and oak trees that I have ever seen, as well as native black cohosh, jack-in-the-pulpets, foam flowers, cardinal flowers, etc. Not to mention the bobcats, woodpeckers, etc. If we sell, the only person who will buy it will be a developer.

When farmland is turned into a development, which there are several within a few miles of us, I believe it is because the farmers, or the hiers to that property, can no longer afford to keep it. We have Land Trusts in this state, that essentially means you give your property to the government, but I don't like the thoughts of that either.

I guess there is no easy solution to the problem. Having grown up in the "country", I can't see myself living in a development. Yet, I know people who would die if they had to live in the middle of the woods like we do.

Someone previously talked about the recycling issues,-- does anyone remember when there were commercials on TV with the Indian who had a tear running down his face while he was standing amidst litter? And the fastfood restaraunts stopped using the styrofoam food containers and switched to cardboard and paper? Somehow that has all crept back without anyone noticing. Garbage litters the highways and roadsides and around here, it doesn't seem like anyone cares about that either.

Maybe those of us that do care about these issues just need to do our part to protect what portions of this Earth that have been entrusted to us while we are here and hope that we pass to our children the need in protecting what portions they are responsible for.


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hey david you don't happen to live in Macomb county by any chance? It really is sad around here in northern macomb with all the houses going up. I kinda get really mad because people move out here to get away from the city then they complain because of not having what they had and that the roads are not paved. All I can say is GRRRRR. I do find it funny though that the completly clear all the trees then plant these little ugly invasive trees that will get to big for the lots they are at.


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Please come to Maine. Not only are we affordable, most communities do care about development. My town lately has been approving new subdivisions that have 3+ acre lots and greenspaces. I live in an older neighborhood with minimum 1-acre lots. Lots of wildlife and intriguing woodland plants.


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dgower82 - I live in the southwest corner of Livingston County. I grew up in Macomb county however, when Sterling Heights was a township and Utica was going to town. I used to rabbit and pheasant hunt where Lakeside mall sits. Before I sound too old, I left there to join the Navy in 1975. By the time I got out and finished college, I couldn't bring myself to move back there. Found an existing house on 5 acres in a rural area, and have been creating my wooded sanctuary ever since. My brothers both still live in northern Macomb, and I am more astonished each time I get back there.


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I hope I didn't come across too harshly Catherine T. And I *DO* appreciate EVERYTHING you have said in both posts. Unfortunately both of our respective Constitutions in our countries will never allow for population control but more education surely can't hurt (particularly aimed at children) who will soon be teens, that's where I see the biggest population boom these days and nobody seems to care or think it's sad to see teens and even pre-teens walking around pregnant. We just hand them everything they need and put them on welfare and let them keep "breeding". I speak from personal experience on this as we have a welfare "breeder" in the family and no one in the family even acknowledges that it's wrong even though her eldest child is now collecting wellfare and has produced the next generation of welfare babies. At any rate, Catherine, I understand everything you've stated and nodded my head in agreement with every statement you made. It's the price we pay for living in such a "free society"... too free in some respects but I don't know the solution except for what has already been mentioned. The grass-roots stuff.. like teaching our kids, helping out neighbors, and all that stuff.

PCJ42... I remember the native american actor in the commercial very well. I was probably 10 years old when that commerical was commonly seen on tv. Recently they have re-run that commercial in it's original form on tv here in Ontario but NOT ENOUGH. It's a good reminder to those of us who grew up with it, to NOT forget. I too noticed the backslide we have been in, in recent years with all the disposable items such as mopheads, toiletbowl cleaning devices that you flush or throw away, disposable microwave/storage containers, food packaging and the most disturbing...the trend back to huge gas guzzling vehicles such as sport utility vehicles from ALL the manufacturers. This trend I understand the least of any with gas prices the way they are, knowledge about the polution and the ozone etc. But it all seems to be coming full circle again and YES the streets and ditches are again looking pitiful with thrown away trash. What's happened? Here in my new city we have to pay for our garbage one bag at a time. This I'm sure has caused a lot of dumping. You only need to take a trip to the nearest side road/woods to see where people are putting their large trash items for "free".

We just have to keep plugging away and doing our own parts I guess.

Just a note to the MI folks here... I visited a friend about 5 hours away in Ann Arbor MI and I think it was the prettiest, naturalized city I have ever seen in my life. It's apparent that the city has gone to great lengths to maintain and improve the "green" in the city and all our cities could do well to follow their lead.

Barb


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hey David, I always laugh becuase my mom grew up in Sterling Heights, back then it was mostly woods and such, they used to go biking and stuff. They would also get gartner snakes and put them in the milk jugs so when my grandma opened them she would freak out.


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Mainemary...I love Maine and lived there for many years. I once married a maniac...However being a NC transplant I almost froze my buns off. With all due respect, I don't think Maine is that cheap. Have you been to West Virginia?

I could talk your ear off about the evils of development. Our county has a citizens group (CPWC) that's currently fighting development and trying to save our farms. It's an uphill battle but it's worth fighting for.

Here is a link that might be useful: CPWC


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Yes it actually is posssible to pass a law making it illegal to have more than two children. When China did it the people in the US generally condemned it. But their population is not growing now. In fact the population in the US would be below ZPG (zero population growth) if it were not for immigrants. There is actually a solution. We just visited Korea and the vast majority of their population lives in highrise apartments. Their land is mostly either forest or farm. I would not like to live that way myself but it is a solution.


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I want us to control ourselves before it gets to the point of having to be told we have to live in high rises, and aren't allowed to live in the country. I don't think humankind will think of that in time though.


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"Yes it actually is posssible to pass a law making it illegal to have more than two children."

While it may be possible in other countries, it would not be possible, nor would it be Constitutional, here.


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While it may be possible in other countries, it would not be possible, nor would it be Constitutional, here.

For sure... what would certain religious groups do who are used to "being fruitful and multiplying" and how would we control all those "wellfare babies"? My stupid sister in law started shoving out welfare babies at age 14 (mid 1980's) and is still shove'n them out today, 20 years later just to keep "on the dole"...her eldest is now 21 and he's on welfare too with an illegitimate baby that he doesn't acknowledge OR pay for. It's sick and our government just turns a blind eye to it and keeps doleing out the money for it to go on and on.

Barb


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In my old neighborhood, there was a couple who lived across the street who had 9 children. (by the time we moved 5 yrs ago) He was a school teacher and she was a stay at home Mom. (doh!) Even tho they struggled to pay their bills and had their power turned off a few times. She said she loved being pregnant and therefore wanted lots of babies. She generally had a child a year so I hate to think of how many they have now. It used to really bother me too that on recycle day there was never a recycle bin in front of their house.

My now next door neighbors are both dentist and they have 6 children so far. She's in her late 30's. They also plan to have more. They're obviously very wealthy and live an extravigant lifestyle. They can't fit all those kids AND themselves into their Rolls Royce.

In todays society, I personally consider that selfish. There are so many children that don't have parents and I would feel terribly quilty pumping out children like that rather than adopting.


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as a florida resident i can tell you growth management acts are useful for about the time period it takes for developer political interests to dismantle them--as happened this year when bush larvae #2's buddies managed to gut our 1985 GMA. major development is no longer subject to state approval, but moves to local level approval where, amazingly, official records show most elected officials get lots of their campaign money from developers.

laws are totally useless in the face of vast sums of money involved in building retirement homes for baby-boomers' one last grab at acquisition before death.

home building is one of florida's major industries, and those forces are in the process of destroying this state's natural ecosystems forever.

they've overdeveloped south florida, and now have set their sights on west florida's forest and riverways. bush corporate pals want to drain north florida water and send it south to support development that is already unsustainable.

florida hometown democracy (floridahometowndemocracy.com) has proposed a state constitutional amendment to place all big new developments to public vote, but again, state judicial powers that be have managed to find something amiss in the amendment's opening statement--and it looks like it won't makenext year's ballot.

as builders destory everything that's left to accommodate the way-overpopulated U.S., you can believe those who become wealthy enough WILL end up moving to Maine and other unspoiled areas, leaving a global subdivision for the rest of us.


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I see a lot of hostility towards people with children and people who want to move into suburban housing. As someone who grew up in the suburbs and hopes to continue living in them for most of my life, I think that it's pretty simplistic to just blame everyone who wants to have a house of their own.

A few things to remember -

The USA is NOT overpopulated. Certain portions of it are densely populated, but there are also very large areas, particularly in the western part of the country, where one can travel many miles without seeing another human being. Compared to China, or India, or much of Europe, the US has tremendous amounts of land per person.

Suburban housing and shopping malls disrupt that natural environment, but so does just about any other human activity. Agriculture is EXTREMELY disruptive to the natural econsystem - in fact, it probably is more damaging because it takes up so much more land than building houses on small plots. In my own state of Massachusetts, for example, there is actually far more forest now than there was 200 years ago, even though the state has a much higher population. The reason? Modern "sprawl" development actually takes far LESS land than traditional agriculture did. In spite of this, nobody is suggesting that we pass laws to limit agriculture or force farmers to abandon their lands. It always seems to be the suburban development that is targeted as being especially "bad", even though it is actually less disruptive than some other types.

The world's population as a whole is slowing down its growth rate. If current trends continue, it might peak around 2050 -2060 and then actually start declining. When people say that the population of the world is skyrocketing out of control, they are simply wrong.


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I could be wrong, but it seems to me that one of the worst problems with suburban development in relation to the natural environment is a certain attitude among many people that the native or natural vegetation is somehow unattractive and needs to be replaced. That's why so many people seem to want to buy houses on large lots where ALL of the preexisting trees have been cleared away, and then they immediately want to plant new trees which are often non-native types that are much more difficult to get growing (and often less attractive) than the native species.

I'm not sure exactly where this attitude got started, but it has been around for generations. Many people have almost come to believe that the trees, bushes, vines, and flowers that grow wild in the nearby woods or fields are automatically disqualified from being "good garden plants" because they grow so naturally. I think that this kind of attitude causes a great deal of extra work for many people and is also unhealthy from an environmental point of view.


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It would be cool if people would move into existing housing. But Nooooooooooooo....it has to be a huge(3500 sq. ft. +, at least) McMansion. In a Spanking New, Sprawly, Stupidly Named Community of Luxurious Townhomes and Executive Single Family Homes On An 18-Hole, Par 3 Golf Course Designed by Arnold Palmer! Note that these sub-divisions are usually named after the natural feature/s that were obliterated when the sub-division was built. I hate tear-downs, but at some level I think it's okay because it may help keep urban sprawl in check.

People with lots of kids I just laugh at. They're always frazzled, usually screaming and overwhelmed. I don't care that they have lots of kids, I just wonder why anyone would want to do that to themselves?

The USA is not over populated, correct, and yes, there are vast stretches of the American west where blessedly, you can go for days without seeing another person. And it should be kept that way forever and ever and ever. And, BTW...even those places are not as remote as they once were...look at the areas around the national parks, for instance.

Trying to justify over-development of one area by saying "oh there's open land over there" is a rather silly argument, IMO.


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As to blaming this problem on immigrants, I highly doubt that most immigrants to this country move into new developments. They're just an easy group to blame for virtually all of society's problems.


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Here in the south, I have a theory that the reason people think natural vegetation is ugly is because what they usually see is NOT native stuff. The rural roadsides here are choked with privet and honeysuckle. It looks like a rats nest! Add to that the abundance of non-native weeds that infest any cleared areas (like the road shoulders) and is it any wonder that people think it looks bad. And that, my theory is, is what people consider "native vegetation".

So, double whammy: they falsely perceive non-native vegetation is native (one) and therefore they clear out what good stuff they may have and replace it with shrubs and trees from the big box stores (two). Unfortunately, the big box stores, while they do carry some natives for those of us that know how to recognize them, mostly push large volumes of non-native plants.

Then, there is the vicious circle: because everyone else is buying non-natives (burning bush, loropetalum, nandina, waxleaf ligustrum, etc.), the next round of shoppers go out and buy it as well. The copy cat mentality in full force.

Many people don't care about gardening. It is just one of the chores of homeownership that must be handled and "please just tell me what works with the least amount of effort on my part". They'd rather be shopping, watching TV or some other mindless act of consumerism.


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Unfortunately both of our respective Constitutions in our countries will never allow for population control

One can always hope........


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I just chanced upon this thread, and want to say I agree with Catherine 100%. Just want to add:

A HUGE problem, largely ignored, is that we are exporting our unsustainable western lifestyle all over the world, via globalization. Who can say the Chinese and East Indians should not enjoy our quality of life? But what if they did?

Long ago one of our American presidents visited India and was given a tour of a city by Gandhi. The president commented sadly about the poverty. Gandhi said yes, but if every Indian lived by American standards, the earth would be stripped of resources "as if by a plague of locusts."

For a long time I've had the dread feeling that something Malthusian, some sort of Gaia principal, will smack our species back into its proper place. It is frightening to consider the future. We need to set a new, enlightened, SUSTAINABLE standard for the word "progress". Before its too late.


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  • Posted by KWoods Cold z7 Long Is (My Page) on
    Thu, May 26, 05 at 9:15

Stinkers!

Here is a link that might be useful: New Development


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  • Posted by Kendal Z8 Puget Sound (My Page) on
    Fri, May 27, 05 at 18:09

On one hand I am so for this country to follow China's one child per family rule (I have none, nor want any), and I've talked to many Chinese that live here now, they agree with the rule, but because they value males so much more innocent girls are murdered and put into orphanages, and now there is going to be a shortage of women for the men. I think that is delightfully ironic, and it would be great to see the women in charge over there. They will at least not have to settle for any guy. Then again as a First Nations woman our people are far from over populated and I would not want to see us restricted to one child per family, too many FN tribes are extinct or close, so you see even if a rule seems like a good idea at the time it too becomes a problem of itself. That said I personally dont see the good in having 4, 5 plus kids.

Kendal


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It is interesting trying to separate out realities from emotions. It's even more interesting to know what realities are for sure since we have no clear baseline data about "what was". There are few, if any, intact, unchanged ecosystems left in North America, so what's all the noise about? Memories from childhood?

The real questions are things like: what can the land sustain in the long run? What is our goal in terms of what will continue on and what will not? Are we willing to sacrifice land and resources for "nature's" sake? And so on. The simple truth is that the manner in which we live far outstips what most local environments can provide. Urban and suburban areas are prime examples of this situation.

An extreme example is the country in which I live, Japan. A full 70% of the food consumed here must be imported! So the truth is we're playing an shell game with resources. We import resources into areas that are unsustainable in and of themselves, and then we have to clean up the mess (pollution, biological waste, etc.). Furthermore, there is a cost both monetarily and ecologically for this shell game. The truth is we don't really know what the cost is. Perhaps one day we'll find out.

Human population may be leveling out, but human need and desire is skyrocketing. In the end we have to decide what our future will be, and act accordingly.

PF


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Plantfreak.......that is a good point about the population leveling off, but it's needs and desires are skyrocketing. It's like the figure about the U.S.......we have only a fraction of the world's population, but use the majority of it's natural resources. Good point.


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Ditto...good points Plant Freak. It's nice to see other country's perspective on this. Your country seems to be exact opposite of mine (Canada) in that we export not only most of our food resources but we also export over 90% of our natural resources too (ie. hydro-electric power, wood, fossil fuels etc.). Like your country however, our populations are extremely dense in very small pockets of our Country, particluarly near the USA border.

Barb
Southern Ontario, Canada


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Some thoughts after reading all these very interesting posts.

2 children is no longer zero population growth. The parents live too long. You have both parents living in their own house with their own cars, plus their two adult children living each in their own home with their own cars, and possibly even the 4 grandchildren with their own cars if not homes. That's 8 people with cars, all alive at the same time, from the original 2.

Cnina does not enforce its one child policy on its ethnic minorities, only on the majority Han Chinese. And women are not becoming powerful in their scarcity - quite the opposite, they're being turned into commodities again, as they were before the Communist revolution. They're entirely too scarce and valuable to allow them to have any power over themselves! are you kidding??

US and Canada, being democracies, could pass any damn laws they want, including population growth regulations. It's just not likely to ever happen let alone not be struck down as unconstitutional until we reach some unimaginable crisis.

One reason Massachussets might have more woodlands now is that agriculture there is not competitive on the global scale - rocky soil, mean climate. Much cheaper to build houses on the land and import the food from milder climes like California and Mexico.

Immigration is a non issue. A red herring.

Large families are still all too common. I was amazed when I moved to WA just how many kids people have! and how pro large family the society in general is! 4 and 5 kids is not uncommon, and those parents are often the ones complaining the loudest about growth and overdevelopment. Parts of Utah have higher pop growth rates than Bangladesh does, and every baby born in this country consumes WAY more resources than the babies born in high growth rate third world countries like Kenya and Bangladesh.

It is not necessary to dislike children to be anti large families. I have no children myself. I think it's unconscionable to have more than 3 except by adoption. But I love children and would have had 1 or 2 myself if I could have.

Yes the US consumes a very high percentage of the world's resources, but we re-export a lot of it as manufactured products.

There's a reason for the low pop density in much of the western US, just as there is for that in northern Canada. There is not enough water. West of the 100th meridian, it's all arid. Southern California, for instance, produces enough water every year for about 100,000 people to live in the LA area without importing water. Places like Wyoming, Nevada and Montana are extremely arid and difficult to live in or to produce food in, and the little water they have is being sucked off to places like LA and Las Vegas and Phoenix.

It's very worrisome that not only are people chopping down trees to build oversized houses and overstocked strip malls but they don't even know anything about the natural world they do live in. They move to the country but insist on bringing the city with them. I watched two boys walking by a pond today. There was a pair of wood ducks on the pond. They flew off when the boys got too close. The boys never even looked up to see what the noise was. Ducks? what ducks? what are ducks? what good are ducks? They don't know one bird from another, one tree, one star, and they don't care. All that matters is manufactured stuff. Nothing else is real to them. That's what worries me - this rejection of the natural world and its twin, excessive materialism. We could do anything we wanted, but we have to decide what's important enough to us first. We could accomodate the natural world way better than we do if we decided it was important to us. What most people want is more stuff.


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I'd like to point out that I am not Japanese, but an American living in Japan now for only two and half years. After reading my post again, I realize I was being too blunt in answering (but I still stand behind what I said). Yes, it is depressing to see development in one's local woods. I've seen this same process happen over and over again in Florida, New York, North Carolina, and even here in Japan: woodlands and rural landscapes falling to growth. What can you say about such a thing especially when you are part of the "problem?".

How many ridgelines in western North Carolina have to be festooned with houses and condos? How much rare scrub land in Florida has to be cleared for yet another subdivision and golf course? How many strip malls does it take to placate consumer's needs and desires. Of course the answer is that there is no limit to this process from the position of human desire. The only limitations are what the market can bear and what the land itself can withstand.

So, I commiserate with you all. May we find sanity in the coming century. It will be the time that we decide our fate, and very likely the fate of many other species as well. PF


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Hi Plantfreak,
I don't think you're being too blunt! I like and agree with what you're saying!


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  • Posted by geoffc z5 Western Mass (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 5, 05 at 19:19

Well, this has been an interesting thread to read through. Seems like opinion is divided along ideological lines.

springa7 said:

"The USA is NOT overpopulated. Certain portions of it are densely populated, but there are also very large areas, particularly in the western part of the country, where one can travel many miles without seeing another human being. Compared to China, or India, or much of Europe, the US has tremendous amounts of land per person."

Well, this is true and I think it's unreasonable to interpret local trends, such as increasing migration to, and development in, desireable areas, with neo-Malthusian alarmism.

I think it's also a bit mean-spirited to criticize people who choose to live life differently, or aim your anger at the affluent, however obnoxious you may find them to be. (For the record, I drive a 1994 Geo Tracker, not a Rolls Royce, and I am poor to poor-ish).

I see that holier-than-thou attitude sneeking in here, laced with a healthy dose of political correctness. Even a red-herring or two tossed into the pot. (What, no straw men, no slippery slopes?)

Fact is people have to live somewhere. Biological populations tend to increase - many organisms, plant and animal, despoil or otherwise alter their environments (think Oriental Bitterroot and Beaver). Humans are no different, and we are not vermin, as I sense some here are suggesting. (When one say's 'we mess everything up' I read 'they mess everything up'.)

Facts are:

There are more forested acres in the US today than there were at the time of the Civil War. Forest resources are renewable.

Among the factors that fuel human population growth, fertility, life expectency and and net immigration, immigration is expected to account for one-third of future US pop. growth.

US pop. growth is increasing, but the rate of growth is decreasing.

On the controversial subject of immigration: non-Hispanic white population is expected to continue to decline, as Hispanic origin population is expected to account for the major portion of future population growth - by immigration and higher fertility rates.

If it's getting too busy where you live, might be time to seek more rural surroundings. I spent 22 adult years in Worcester, MA (pop 170,000), then 2 years in Rockland County NY (near NYC). Yuck! Now I live in Otis, MA (pop. 1300), in a 720 sq. ft. house surrounded by 20 acres (4 acres are mine). I have 2 kids. My car is paid for and gets 29 mpg. These are my personal choices and I wouldn't legislate my lifestyle on anyone else.

The lot next door is for sale. If someone decides to both share and shatter my serenity one day, shall I bi#%h about it? Can't stop the rain by complainin'. Can't shoot somebody over it.

One last item: that "Native American" who paddled his canoe up a polluted stream to a freeway in the 1970's TV commercial was Iron Eyes Cody. He claimed to be Cherokee/Cree. In fact he was 2nd generation Italian-American. Fake tear, fake Indian. Pious, but flawed sentiment.

Lighten up and get out in the garden! I'm scouring my wooded acres for wildflowers, ferns and vines, and working on a deep shade garden to fill a horrible bare spot of dirt. Hope to use all native plants. Making new discoveries every day and learning a lot along the way.


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DON'T get me started! New Jersey is such a spot for that. It along with California are the most rapidly growing states in the Union.... and not, I say, in a good way. It seems every time a New Yorker wants to leave the city they come to New Jersey.... it makes me wonder where they all come from.... I mean I know New York's a large city but come on! And developers have absolutely no thought for the enviroment. They just clean areas and don't leave any (mature included) trees.... Very sad. They don't even care about historical significance. (i.e. tear down houses etc. in their way).... its bad for people too (natives! native plants and people don't fare too well!) Towns with indiscriminate and sleazy officials will take money from developers to force locals to sell their houses at considerably less than market value. And if they won't well they get kicked out. So they leave and don't have enough money (with real estate prices soaring) to buy new. Many move farther south where they can afford a home. Some are elderly and have lived in their homes for years. And the "subdivisions" as you stated....... the condos are so boring!!!! So nondescript.... no personality.... it makes me think of a Stepford village. Many New Yorkers in particular move to the "country" (New Jersey) for the "peace" and scenery.... which of course they destroywhen all this stuff is built for them and when its noiser than ever because of them! They love to move into houses too and cement most of the grass with well.... cement. It makes me think why didn't they just stay in the city? If that's what they're going to do (try to turn NJ into it!!) The black bears are so displaced by development they're really infringing on human "territory" many people are freaking out (though they haven't hurt anyone yet) I say if they tear up some transplant's garbage bin it serves them right! Seems to be a sign to me..... If it keeps happening I'm out! Because I can't live where birds don't sing when you wake up because there aren't trees around!


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"DON'T get me started! New Jersey is such a spot for that. It along with California are the most rapidly growing states in the Union.... and not, I say, in a good way. It seems every time a New Yorker wants to leave the city they come to New Jersey"

I feel your pain, flowersandthings. Here in my tiny Berkshire town, our population expands from 1300 to 10,000 in the summer. Lots of second-home owners from you-know-where. NYC is just 2.5 hours away. I can make it to the Tappan Zee in 2 hours flat.

I lived for 2 years in Rockland County, NY, where many Bronxians had relocated in order to live "in the country" in 2700 sq.ft. houses on quarter acre lots. Many could not, and would not, operate a lawnmower. They contracted out to landscaping services staffed by legions of Central American immigrants seeking a better life. God love 'em all.

I worked in Fairfield NJ for a time and saw the McMansions springing up like dandilions. I wish I could afford that kind of life. Which is not to say I'd choose it - I just wish I could afford it.

And I certainly don't find fault with the urbanites who seek their escape here in the summer. They keep the local economy alive while keeping the property taxes low. Some of 'em are actually pretty darned interesting.

But I could never live down that way again. It's just nuts!


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  • Posted by ggopal Chicago, IL z5 (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 14, 05 at 21:46

What saddens me is the sight of perfectly fine nice ranch houses with good gardens being torn down for new tall and wide monsters which occupy nearly the entire lot and eliminate all sunshine for the neighbors. This is spreading like a contagion where I live. It's all concrete and grass...


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Hmm...Geoff, that's interesting about Iron Eyes Cody but at the same time pretty typical considering it was the 1970's to use a "poser" for an ethnic person on tv. I think the concept was well done even if the casting wasn't. We need more tv commericals like that now b/c I see parents watch their kids throw McDonalds sacks out the window of the car and think nothing of it and see adults dumping heaping ashtrays from their car at intersections, dump trash and large items into empty lots and the whole renew/reuse/recycle has practically gone out the window with all the disposable crap you can buy once again. What's happening with THAT?! Disposable microwave/freezer containers, disposable toilet brushes and so on... and the size of cars has crept right back up and beyond the tubboat size vehicles that we used to see in the 70's and 80's only now they are called SUV's.

I've looked back in the thread and can't see where "immigrants" came into the con-vo...where'd that come from?

Barb


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and somewhere, George Levitt is turning in his grave, and grumbling that this isn't what he had in mind at all when he started this whole mess...

of course, we've been developping ever since. the Fields. the Shires. the Crossing, the Grant, the POinte, the Hill, the various parks and lanes named after the critters they displaced and left to wander homeless until hit by a passing car...

and the houses get bigger, and the lots don't- which makes sense, since you can't very well be expected to PAY for a 750K home, and cut your own lawn, eh?

my parents fled Levittown in 65, drove until they hit a dirt road, and bought someone else's dream house (being sold to commemorate the end of the dream marriage)

me? I looked around at the spit and cardboard being offered, read over some of the HOA paperwork...

ew. how can I move in to something like that, after living in a work of art?

worse- even if I could afford to, how could I justify stealing another acre of land to put up a house I could call my own?

I moved to the edge of one of the least fashionable towns in the county. bought half a twin with a front yard about the size of a mini cooper, and a back yard smaller than my dad's living room...and a mortgage that's precisely half what it would cost to RENT a two bedroom apartment in the trendy areas :)

and some day, when I can't take it any more... I'll get in the car, and drive until I hit a dirt road- and there I will build a house that pipes the gray water to a filter pond near the garden, and heavy, heavy insullation...and try my hand at keeping bees, and go back to husking my own walnuts, instead of buying them all clean and polished ;)

and then I'll do what my folks did- bring up a kid or two who wouldn't have parents otherwise, and raise em to take society with a shaker of salt ;)

it could be done better- but it would take the kind of collective effort that americans seem best at when it's too damned late (patriot act? commiteee for unamerican activities? Faugh- not the first time we've been blacklisted)


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  • Posted by Suenh cold end of 4! (My Page) on
    Thu, Jun 16, 05 at 11:01

Wow! this wasn't at all what I expected to read when I clicked on this thread.

I grew up on Long Island. Watched the Leavitt style homes march steadily eastward. Even at a tender age I knew I wasn't long for the place. Would beg my parents to flee but they couldn't. Couldn't pass up too go a thing with two small children.
When I was 18 I packed all my belongings in my car and drove north. Hit my dirt road and had a job and a small apt. the next day. When I was 23 I bought a small house on a dirt road. Grew my own veggies, raised a few chickens and worked. Pretty happy, pretty self contained. At 31 I met a local man, his family had been in the area forever. At 33 I had one child. Just one, no more.
My husbands family had farmed this area since the 1740's. Last year the opportunity arouse where we bought all we could afford of a family farm that had been here and standing since 1753. The cousin that inherited it couldn't give a damn, lives in NJ. Sold the rest to a developer. I'm typing this now to the sound of an excavator across the street ripping and tearing out the family history. Hasn't made it to the old blacksmith shop foundation yet. I suppose when he does I'll be out there. Seeing if I can save anything besides rocks. The cousin sold the contents of the home to a junk dealer. Family pictures, bibles, everything to a man with no soul. 250+ years lost to greed.

So here I sit in an old cape built in 1753. It's nearly original yet. Paupered ourselves to save it. I can't bear to set foot in the junk shop. Couldn't afford to buy back my daughters family anyway. Listening to the machine dig away at lot that house several generations of smiths and pastured the family's flocks. Out of 300+ acres we could only afford the house and 18 acres of land. Did what we could.

I'm going to try to replant part of my garden. Grow most of my own food. Flash flood took most of it out last week and it's been raining ever since.
The excavator drones on
I do what I can.

Immigrants? We are all from immigrant families. My grandparents came from Czechoslovakia, the original person from that name immigrated from CZ from Russia. My husbands family came from England and Scotland in the early 1700's. His mothers side even earlier. Husbands family can be traced to Normandy and Flanders. Husbands family also has a good deal of American Indian blood. Not because they were enlightned or anything but because there weren't very many humans around so the Indian girl down the road looked pretty good. Either way she came from Canada. The earlier Indians were all killed off one way or another. Some moved out, some moved back.
People migrate. Nature of the beast. We all try for something better. When we don't try there is something very wrong.

Incidentaly...
Once my sister and I were grown and gone my parents move to downeast Maine. Living the good life just a stones throw from Elliot Colemans place.
They did what they could too.

The excavator drones on...


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

On a bright note... I think I mentioned way back at the beginning of this thread that we've had some interesting visitors and "residents" at our woodlot home over the past 18 months we've lived here. First we had some ducks dabbling around in a mud puddle beside our house (1 male and 1 female mallard) while it was being finished. Later we had Tundra Swans on our front lawn and then found some mallards (2 females and a male) eating the grass in our back yard just in front of the woods. We also have a resident raccoon living next door and a resident groundhog family 2 doors down. The birdlife is quite good despite all the construction in this part of the city but was never better than yesterday morning when I was waking up my daughter. Her room is facing the woods and on the second floor. I went to get her up and did a double-take. In front of her window was this long snakey neck and a big beak! I had to look twice but YES INDEEDY... on top of our 7' privacy fence was perched A GREAT BLUE HERON ABOUT 4.5 FEET TALL! LOL... 4 doors down from us, the neighbor has converted his entire backyard into a mini pond and stream system and the heron must have thought it looked pretty good from the sky but much too small once he came down and landed. I'd loved to have got a photo but he flew off when I tried to wake up my daughter to see him. Just to the north of my house is a large conservation area and lake and to the east is a brick-pond where herons love to hang out for weeks at a time so I'm sure the poor fellow won't go hungry (unless the neighbor with the pond had ornamental fish and the heron was just trying to figure out how to swallow a coy fish) ;o)

Barb
Southern Ontario, CANADA zone 6a


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

"I've looked back in the thread and can't see where "immigrants" came into the con-vo...where'd that come from? Barb"

May 6:

It's just like saying we should let everyone immigrate to the U.S., because this is what we've always done. Well, at some point, we have to think of the overall consequences.

May 8:

If you are going to complain about the destruction of our natural spaces, and rightfully so, then also complain about immigration, which fuels development more than a couple having a large family, which is fairly rare these days.

May 21:

Yes it actually is posssible to pass a law making it illegal to have more than two children. When China did it the people in the US generally condemned it. But their population is not growing now. In fact the population in the US would be below ZPG (zero population growth) if it were not for immigrants.

May 25:

As to blaming this problem on immigrants, I highly doubt that most immigrants to this country move into new developments. They're just an easy group to blame for virtually all of society's problems.

June 2:

Immigration is a non issue. A red herring.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

You can't blame the problems on immigrants, that's for sure..but immigration(legal and otherwise)IS swamping lots of housing markets that don't have enough affordable housing. In the Carolinas, in the SouthWest, Southern California. Therefore, in order to make more housing..development goes further and further out(to cheaper land, in rural areas)in concentric rings around all the big cities.

I live in a modest 1960's ranch house neighborhood. There are lots of immigrants here, they hail from Mexico, Central America and, surprisingly, Eastern Europe. The reason they come here is that the houses are not terribly expensive. You can probably buy a house on my street for $160K. THAT is affordable housing. There are some new developments going in that are called "affordable" housing...townhomes For $225K.

These new developments are mostly townhomes. A few monstrous Single family homes...From the mid-$300's.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Where has all the old growth corn gone?


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

  • Posted by Suenh cold end of 4! (My Page) on
    Tue, Jun 21, 05 at 4:06

It's there Dieter. Look in back of the 'tater patch.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Take a look at Dolores Hayden's new book "A Field Guide to Sprawl" for a graphic illustration of what unsustainable development does to our landscape. And it should be said that a key component of sustainability is using existing housing stock. Developers build on greenfield sites because that's what people are buying. If society placed a greater value on conservation, this trend would stop. The next time you see a historic house or barn or factory being razed, think about the old growth materials (not to mention the craftsmanship) that went into its construction. Demolition debris takes up a high volume of landfill space- all that material is wasted.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Thanks Geoff. Ya, I remembered a few of those but never took them to say "immigrants were responsible" per se. I thought the person was just listing 'other' troublesome issues. All the others I missed when skimming the posts. Thanks for pulling them out for me. I agree... it has virtually nothing to do with housing development encroaching on wilderness.

Hey, check this out...I had posted recently on the strange wildlife we've had in our back yard well one night we were driving home and 2 coyotes ran through the field behind us. It's sad that we are living in what used to be their domocile but if they can stand me, I don't mind them hanging around. Maybe they will eat my mice that are taking up residence in my shed. I hope nobody does anything to get rid of them! That would be just aweful and obviously very much a risk when you have residential housing plopped down in a woodland.

Barb
southern Ontario, CANADA zone 6a


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

On immigration...if my great-grandma hadn't come over on a boat at 18, I guess I'd be living in Sweden. No wait. I wouldn't be alive because my dad is the 3rd child. I wouldn't have a sister or my niece and 2 nephews...sis is the 3rd child.....which doesn't matter anyway because I'm not alive........


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Knottyceltic wrote:

"Thanks Geoff. Ya, I remembered a few of those but never took them to say "immigrants were responsible" per se. I thought the person was just listing 'other' troublesome issues. All the others I missed when skimming the posts. Thanks for pulling them out for me. I agree... it has virtually nothing to do with housing development encroaching on wilderness.
Hey, check this out...I had posted recently on the strange wildlife we've had in our back yard well one night we were driving home and 2 coyotes..."

Barb, I think two people can look at the same picture and see different things. I saw the immigration issue dividing along ideological lines; one line claiming that the biggest source of population growth in the US is from immigration, which is demonstrably true, and the other flatly stating that immigration is a non-issure or "red herring".

I just posted the facts from the US Census Bureau. Yup, immigration, along with the higher fertility rates of the immigrant population, is where population growth is coming from. There's no value judgement implied.

The most interesting post (I think) in this thread passed without comment, remarkably. One poster suggested that mandatory restrictions on the number of children per household are worthy of consideration, but that native Americans should be exempt. That's racist eugenics, and nobody uttered a peep. Choosing which races should be allowed to increase and which should not has been tried before. Our cultural "sensitivity" may be causing us to be blind to, or fearful of criticizing, some ugly and dangerous ideas.

I think you're seeing the broader picture of what's causing the continued human encroachment on wild areas and looking for a middle ground. You're thinking about it, not reacting to someone else's comment.

Population increase is on part of the problem. Another, and I don't know if it's been mentioned here, is the apparent increase in second home ownership. Lots of folks make their city money, and then escape to their country idyll. I live in a resort-type area where the population increases from 1300 to 10,000 with the arrival of the summer people. It's a drag, but it keeps our property tax low and keeps the local businesses alive. And we still have a small town character.

I live in a tiny house that was built as a summer home by a lovely old woman who lives in the Bronx. I got her name from the tax office and wrote her to come visit. Most recently, the property was owned by a couple from Manhattan who used it as a weekend retreat.

Well, now the place is a year-round home for a family of four. No new construction needed. Can't accuse me of being politically incorrect on that count!

On the subject of summer homes and summer people: another source of population growth here (in my neck of the woods) is the immigrant workers who come to fill the service jobs created by a wealthy and transient summer population. Our area is seeing increased numbers of south and central American workers seeking employment in the service economy. The Red Lion Inn, in Stockbridge, offers ESL classes to accomodate this growing and economically important new group.

These people also need a place to live, hence affordable housing construction. This is becoming a bit of a sticky wicket, politically. Oops - there goes another meadow!

So the issues are complex, they are multifaceted, they are very real. And we won't address them if we view then from behind the rose-colored lenses of multicultural political correctness, nor will we have a civil town meeting on development issues unless everyone puts down their ideological biases and preconceptions and take an honest look at the facts at hand.

On the sumbject of wildlife - we are seeing more bear than ever this year, and - surprisingly - a lot of moose. Moose? What's up with that? Coyotes we hear all the time. Haven't seen one yet. And we have mountain lions. Some people say bobcats, but I'm told by old timers that they're not. I dunno.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

There are ways to fight back:

Get involved in local planning and zoning issues PRE-EMPTIVELY. Organize with like-minded folks. Go to meetings. Lobby your councilpeople. Stay informed. Once you find out about a new development in the local newspaper, it is usually too late to fight it.

Look into such things as conservation easements, tree ordinances and other protective measures.

Put a deed restriction on your own property, so that it can never be subdivided, sold for commercial use or whatever you want it to say. Written properly, a deed restriction can be legally binding in perpetuity.

Best idea----run for office!


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

As far as the immigrant issue, which does indeed drive some housing problems--primarily lack of affordable housing--the problem is too many people see this as basically a racial issue. People saying "You just don't want that group moving because they are Hispanic, Pacific Islander, Caribbean, etc." or "I don't want those people....."

The problem is really economic, rather than racial.

If you can convince people to stop looking at it as primarily a racial issue--which carries so much baggage with it--then you can start looking a real solutions to providing affordable housing.

But damage to the environmentwise, the growth of McMansionization is much harder on the wider environment. Covering 90 percent of a lot with hardscape either under roof or black top creates problems wih lack of greenery and cooling, and run off (carrying pollutants, erosion, and less recharge of ground water).

Also, new housing developments in the mid-Atlantic (and other places I'm sure) often lack trees mainly because they are built on what was a farmer's pasture or field, which was cleared and kept cleared generations ago.

None of this excuses developers who do not consider ideas like clustering house to leave large green areas, need for connections between wooded areas so wildlife can travel, diversity of landscape trees, etc.

But developers only obey those zoning laws that the voters require to be passed. Many more voices need to get involved in demanding better environmental zoning before the politicians will take notice and actions--even something as simple as how big does a tree have to be before a builder can't cut it down. Then voters have to be diligent about making sure zoning boards don't hand out exceptions everytime a developer offers a pretty amenity in exchange for greater density.

In the end, developers are controller by voters speaking out--and not just against a single specific development.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

I think my home page says it aLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

There are many things that drive the housing market and the different shifts that occur. It is pretty interesting I think.
If people are seriously concerned about the environment and housing they need to take a strong stance with native plants. The Wild Ones is a great place to start and obviously the native plant forum here. Read the books that are out there by Sally and Andy Wasowski. When people start to realize how limiting our water resources are going to be in the years to come they won't have much care for those big lawns that have to be watered and mowed over and over again. Ok jumping off my soap box. I usually lurk.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

I work part-time for the local watershed association. We have been working with developers, county officials, and the public promoting the idea of subdivisions with smaller lots for houses and shared green space ... response has been pretty good so far. One developer has donated land along a creek for the beginning phase of a greenways trail. There's a long way to go, but it's a start. Recently we held a workshop for local govt officials about building/controlling growth while protecting the watershed. It did take a LOT of phone calls, however, to get them there.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

How amazing. It seems that just about every post in this thread is something I hear or read about in what is happening locally though there is alot more emphasis upon the effect of immigration from the south.

It seems quite apparent that there is no one acorn that will grow the right sized tree that can be used to resolve these matters forthrightly. The needs and the available resources will have to dictate the basic guidelines that local governments must use in a responsible way to maintain a basic quality of life for all citizens. It is just a matter of definition.

The most important element will have to be education. That is, education of the young to become aware of their world, both the material world and the natural world, and to learn how to appreciate the values of both and how to deal with those elements that deter from quality of life, which itself will have to be resolved to some basic common denominators.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to progress on dealing with these kinds of issues is the tendency of the society to capitalize on dilemnas for personal profit. Housing is the best example of this excess. While currently the free market is the prime mover in setting housing starts, the trend is always towards the highest bottom line possible.
And so the notion of low-cost or even realistically costed housing is only a dream for the low to modest income levels and seems to draw those who are enterring the market area from outside after having realized substantial gains on their previously owned properties. This cycle seems bent on driving housing into a ever higher spiral of unaffordability. But there are solid answers. A rethink in the manner in which housing is liquidated. A rethink in how housing is constructed and in the types of materials that are used. There are excellent approaches on the books since the 1920s and 1930s. Think Frank Lloyd Wright for example.
Again the notion of profit has contributed to continual erosion of natural resources worldwide! (Think Indonesia)

I think that is is time to really put the arm on the politicians as is being done in regards to immigration. It is time for our society to begin the task of confronting the dilemnas rather than continuing to make them worse.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

One thing everyone can do *right now* is to start giving your time and money to support land conservation trusts in your state. I'm glad to say there's a strong movement here in NC in support of a bond referendum that will fund a billion dollars for this purpose over the next five years. Uncontrolled development here in the Appalachians will eventually destroy an area as rich in botanic diversity as the Amazon rain forest. So people are getting exercised, and active, and vocal with their politicians. So like I said, check out the land trusts.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Immigrants cant afford swanky condos going up in the middle of the jungle and next to the freeways here in S.California.If 1978 property worth 3 million dollar is now <150 million dollar>87 condos building they will chop your woodland.And dont blame the poor immigrants blame the profit taking money hungry you know who....Sue


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Bah, at the rate things are going, NOBODY can afford these insane, huge, inefficient, McMansions, at least not without creative financing (read as "suicide loans"). Depending upon how the housing market unravels, we could be left with piles of foreclosed McMansions... I don't know what good that would do, but it would be different... unless developers tear them down to put in whatever the next great idea may be!

Oh, I live near a monument to human stupidity: a huge area of land was clear-cut, leveled, and utterly demolished to put in a Wal-Mart and assorted other stores. Then, that idea fell through... so, now the area sits as a huge wasteland where only weeds grow... great job!


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

radagast......we mentioned (maybe somewhere above), that maybe these McMansions will turn into tenement-type housing.
It makes me sick what's happening. I keep thinking the economy will have to slow down.....but so far, the bulldozers keep going. I truly do feel like an alien here.
The rapid pace of development is just unbelieveable.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Yep, it frustrates me badly as well. Too many things being built for no reason at all - do we really need a Wal-Mart or whatever every few miles?! And we have to drive everywhere, which means more crowding, more pollution, more sprawl, which leads to more Wal-marts, etc. It is a maddening cycle that just does not seem to have an end until everything is paved over.

The McMansions infuriate me. They are nothing but ego-statements in most cases, many people who have them really can't afford them (thanks to interest-only loans, ARMS, negative amortization loans and other forms of suicide loans), but this has priced a lot of people out of the market and encouraged more needless development that is based purely on speculation - let's cut down a forest and build a pile of McMansions since SOMEBODY will buy them, no matter what absurd price we charge?! And for those of us who don't like McMansions because of their absurd size, horrible house to lot ratio, and generally wasteful nature (clear-cuts, high utility bills, etc.), there are few options any more, unless one wants to live in a condo or townhome, the former being no better than apartment living (ugh), and the later heading the same way as McMansions, but with no lots... Good luck finding an older home that isn't a run-down mess and is actually for sale at a reasonable price, at least around here.

I look around and I sometimes think far too many people would be happy if the whole world was paved over with shopping centers and huge houses with nothing but perfectly green grass, a few "lollipop" shaped, small trees, and a few equally boring shrubs. Oh, and maybe humanity will allow a few other species to survive because they are "cute" or something.

*sigh*

Maybe the slowing economy and crumbling real estate market will slow down the madness, but it won't stop it and not much can be done about what has already been lost. I just can't see developers replacing McMansions with woodlots or building smaller, affordable homes in more natural settings. There's less money to be made this way and too many people don't want terrible things like trees, plants that aren't lawn grass, etc.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

I have lived in the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania for a little over 30 years. I agree that some of the development has been distructive, but some municipalities control the growth well, and some don't.

I also see many benefits as a result of the growth. When I moved here, health care was not readily available; there were few specialists, and most were not accepting new patients. Now we have our choice of board certified specialists, and the hospitals have grown along with the Mc Mansions. As I get older I appreciate the importance of accessable health care, and I will pay the price to have it. Many people who grew up here hate the changes, but I don't hear them asking to be taken 50+ miles to a hospital in the nearest city when they are sick. They also don't complain that their grand-children attend superior schools.

There are ways to protect the environment by controling development, but be prepared to pay the price. Our county buys property to protect it, and the tax payers generally agree with the policy and the cost.

If you are worried about a developer buying the nearby woodlands and destroying your privacy, you have options. You can buy the woodlands, yourself, or, if you can't afford to buy it, you can ask God for the moral strength to accept the situation. Whatever you do, your rights to tell other people what to do with their property are limited!


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

Good points bobs2.

I feel it is sad for the most part. The original post mentioned Chicago. I routinely attended a sports tournament annually in Naperville. It was not wooded, but there were lots of fields, pumpkin patches etc. A couple of years on and I was absolutely amazed at how much of the open space had been built upon.

One problem is that people are unwilling to use existing (often sufficient) infrastructure. Much of the unwillingness stems from a desire for what most people consider to be convenient. Often this involves something new that replaces an existing alternative (such as a new super Walmart down the street from an existing Target).

With regard to new homes, it is often unfortunate and unnecessary, but people continue to be attracted to new homogenous subdivisions and the sterile environments they offer when decent housing is already available in existing communities. It's interesting, and certainly conceptions of safety, wealth, cleanliness, and aesthetics all contribute to the development. Many Americans are very space conscious and do not feel comfortable living in high-rise type buildings, so it encourages building out rather than up. High buildings obscure views, but they take up less surface area. We all have different conceptions of the good life.

In the case where existing infrastructure is inadequate (roads, hospitals, schools etc), it would be best to rebuild on properties that are currently occupied with inadequate facilities. This sort of planning is not always simple. It would also be nice if developers, when they do build on wooded lots for example, did not level the entire area. It is not necessary by any means. My parents built their home on a wooded 6 acre lot 10 years ago. There was no existing structure, but every effort was made to keep as many trees as possible. There is a small lawn surrounded by an area of thinned trees surrounded by a larger area of natural woodland. Development can be achieved tastefully.

Large parking lots due to lack of availability or non-use of public transportation (automobile addiction) is also a major disaster. Often a shopping center requires more surface area for parking than the buildings it contains.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

I think as a nation (the U.S.), we are just too wealthy. If we didn't all have so much money, we wouldn't tear perfectly good buildings down, just to build new ones. We wouldn't need so many malls. We wouldn't need so many cars, stuff, fast-food restaurants, etc., etc. People in their early twenties wouldn't get their own new big homes.
I would love to see a world where we used our money wisely. We would all have very comfortable homes with running water and heat and a.c., and great health care, and good, safe food........but our lives wouldn't be lived in malls and restaurants and shops, etc. We would all grow big gardens, and use much less than we do now. There would be less people, because we'd have that figured out too. And there would be mile after mile of protected forests and fields. I know......I'm dreaming. But I think it's possible. I think it's possible for us to have "wealth", but to use it in simple ways. We would all have an excellent level of comfort..............but we wouldn't destroy the world in the process.


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RE: Sad. Those damn developers!

I think that vision will only come true if it is forced upon our species by terrible outside events. Humanity, from what I have seen, is simply on average not wise enough or selfless enough to live in such a fashion. Like apes fighting for dominance of a tribe or a specific tree, humans love to consume, waste, destroy, and otherwise prove that they can make the biggest monument to their own glory, and who cares what must be ruined to achieve this goal. If more people didn't live in a stimulus-response state of being, where seeking instant gratification is all that matters, there would actually be concern for the future. Right now, most of the species really doesn't think ahead beyond a few weeks and their own wants.


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