Urban Sprawl - Rochester, NY area 


Consider how land use--Brownfields, farming, building new roads, developing properties, including front-water properties--will affect our ability to adapt to and mitigate Climate Change.  .  

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Page Contents: NewsLinks for Urban Sprawl | Stop Sprawl (Essay) | Smart Growth Education | Smart Growth Resources |Rochester Neighborhoods |Working against Urban Sprawl |


Urban SprawlEvery community has to deal with urban sprawl ('also known as suburban sprawl, is the spreading out of a city and its suburbs over rural land at the fringe of an urban area" --from Urban sprawl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) --how to attract, plan, and manage growth.  With Monroe County and Rochester the population is going down and the urban sprawl is going up--not good for the environment.

Rochester ranks 12th in the nation: The Sprawl Index - Rochester, NY Overall Sprawl Index Score: 77.93 - ranking it 12th most sprawling of 83 metro areas measured. Read the report: MEASURING SPRAWL AND ITS IMPACT - The Character & Consequences of Metropolitan Expansion --From Smart Growth America

This page attempts to provide resources and news on development and land preservation that could affect our area's environment--both positively and negatively.


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Stop Sprawl    

Though our community, and many others, have no need for such ruinous projects (for our population is not increasing) undeterred development occurs regardless because big businesses have the political and economic clout to threaten a community's tax base if they don't get what they want. Urban sprawl presents an almost apocalyptic process here in Rochester and around the world that cannot be stopped-despite how they negatively impact residents and established businesses-because our community leaders fail to see the long-term consequences of human assault on Nature.     

Beyond the usual complaints against urban sprawl-the destruction of neighborhoods, the need for more vehicles requiring more hours on the road, and the ruinous loss of monies in the inner city--there is another certainty that is not so obvious, and most who are against the expansion of our asphalt jungle into pristine land rarely mention because it is extremely unfashionable to do so. It is the gradual and persistent destruction of our environment that the encroachment of our way of life wreaks on the environment.     

As confirmed by more and more scientists, we are presently living in the Sixth Great Mass Extinction-a time analogous to that period which destroyed the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago when a sizable percent of our planet's species went extinct. Somehow, we have allowed ourselves to nurture the notion that extinctions like these are inevitable, coming and going as they have through the ages, and that we are not the cause.     

But, this time we are.     

The problem is that we have not developed a sensible economy, one that does not treat our environment as a limitless resource. And, the problem is made more difficult to see by developers and the public because we approve of such projects only in the context of our perceived needs, not the bigger picture that these developments are accumulative, growing exponentially around the world. Most scoff when the environmental factor in these issues of man's continual expansion upon Nature comes up. It makes me think of The Emperor's New Clothes, a brutally honest reality that is, but no one wishes to discuss.    

 As our environment disintegrates, this great extinction, a result of our own choices, so does our ability to survive. The illusion, created by our own prowess in medical and technological advances, that we are living longer, healthier, and better has profoundly clouded the most obvious fact: We have not conquered Nature, we have only pulled back the trigger farther on the weapon that will kill us.  --FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com


Measuring Sprawl and Its Impact In this first-of-its-kind study, the product of three years of research, the authors define, measure and evaluate metropolitan sprawl and its impacts and create an impact based on four factors: residential density, neighborhood mix of uses, strength of activity centers and downtowns, and accessibility of the street network.

Click here to download the full report (PDF)

Click here to download the Executive Summary (PDF)

Click here to download the Technical Report (PDF)

Click here to download the Ranking Table (PDF) |

From Smart Growth America




Smart Growth Education

Below are survey's, reports, information on the issue of Urban Sprawl

  • Smart Choices or Sprawling Growth: A 50-State Survey of Development- The Sierra Club Report
  • How crowed is Rochester?  Find out: Terraserver where you can look at satellite photos!
  •  on Sprawl, September 2000
  • Planners Commission Sprawl Resource Guide The Sprawl Resource Guide is designed to familiarize you with several of the key issues associated with sprawl, and direct you to some of the wealth of information already available on the Web.


Dumb Growth Chart.

Smart Growth Chart

above scripts from Dynamic Drive


Smart Growth Resources

  • RRCDC: Rochester Regional Community Design Center The mission of the Rochester Regional Community Design Center is to be a resource, assisting municipalities and citizens of the Greater Rochester Region in defining, understanding, promoting and implementing concepts of design excellence and sustainability for the built environment and public realm.
  • Smart Growth The Governor's Smart Growth Cabinet and the various state agencies involved with this initiative is committed to working with localities to use smart, sensible planning to create livable communities, protect our natural resources and promote economic growth.
  • Empire State Future "There's a new dawn in the citizen effort to improve our future - Empire State Future! It's a coming together of many civic improvement organizations, planning groups, and individuals interested in advancing the principles of "smart growth" and turning them into reality in cities, towns and villages all across the Empire State. The organization will build on the generally accepted ideas that our cities need nurturing, suburban sprawl is ruining our landscape and killing our economy, and it's no longer possible to build our way out of congestion. Empire State Future will compliment and expand on efforts to bring sanity to the way we plan our future. And a big element of our work will involve communications: our intention is to provide the smart growth constituency and the general public with a lively web site that is current, informative, and easily used. "
  • Sprawl City - This website emerges from the work of environmental authors Leon Kolankiewicz and Roy Beck to make U.S. Bureau of the Census data on sprawl more easily available to the public. The philosophy of the website is this: To be effective, anti-sprawl efforts must be targeted at the factors that are most responsible for the encroachment of cities and their suburbs on the surrounding rural land. The relative contributions of the factors must be understood if anti-sprawl resources are to be used efficiently and effectively. This website features U.S. government data and analysis of that data that allow the visitor to see the roles of contributing factors in the sprawl of individual urban areas, states, bio-regions and the nation as a whole.
  • Smart Growth | US EPA EPA helps communities grow in ways that expand economic opportunity, protect public health and the environment, and create and enhance the places that people love. Through research, tools, partnerships, case studies, grants, and technical assistance, EPA is helping America's communities turn their visions of the future into reality.
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HUD's mission is to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. To fulfill this mission, HUD will embrace high standards of ethics, management and accountability and forge new partnerships--particularly with faith-based and community organizations--that leverage resources and improve HUD's ability to be effective on the community level.
  • Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse: The Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse mission is to make the tools, techniques, and strategies developed to manage growth, accessible to citizens, grassroots organizations, environmentalists, public officials, planners, architects, the media and business leaders.
  • Smart Growth Online In communities across the nation, there is a growing concern that current development patterns -- dominated by what some call "sprawl" -- are no longer in the long-term interest of our cities, existing suburbs, small towns, rural communities, or wilderness areas. Though supportive of growth, communities are questioning the economic costs of abandoning infrastructure in the city, only to rebuild it further out.
  • New York Planning Federation Our mission: "To promote sound planning, land use and zoning practice in New York State so that orderly growth and development may occur balanced with necessary resource conservation."
  • NRDC: Smart Growth Cities and towns across the country are embracing smart growth as a better solution to meet the needs of their growing populations. See visions for how 70 U.S. communities could apply smart growth principles that accommodate growth and development while saving open space, revitalizing neighborhoods and helping cool the planet. --from NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council - The Earth's Best Defense
  • Planetizen | Urban Planning, Design and Development Network Planetizen is a public-interest information exchange provided by Urban Insight for the urban planning, design, and development community. It is a one-stop source for urban planning news, commentary, interviews, event coverage, book reviews, announcements, jobs, consultant listings, training, and more. Planetizen prides itself on covering a wide number of planning, design, and development issues, from transportation to global warming, architecture to infrastructure, housing and community development to historic preservation. We provide a forum for people across the political and ideological spectrum, ensuring a healthy debate on these and other important issues.


Smart Growth Guidelines for Sustainable Design and DevelopmentSmart Growth Guidelines for Sustainable Design and Development "How and where communities locate, design, and develop affordable housing affects their overall approach to growth as much as it does the household budgets of their residents. Communities that seek to grow and develop more sustainably can begin by asking themselves the following questions: Is affordable housing in my community well located, near transportation choices, and away from sensitive natural areas? Are new housing developments designed to encourage walking, connect to nearby uses and amenities, and incorporate parks and open space? Are affordable homes being constructed with materials and techniques that reduce energy and water use and improve resident health and well-being? If the answer to one or more of these questions is "no," then a community is unlikely to be growing in a manner that is economically or environmentally sustainable. "

Download Smart Growth Guidelines for Sustainable Design and Development (PDF) (34 pp, 12.6MB, About PDF).


Working Against Urban Sprawl

Some organizations in our area are on on the job making our communities better and engaging in Smart growth, not Urban Sprawl.

  • Flower City Habitat for Humanity - Rochester, NY Flower City Habitat for Humanity is the Rochester affiliate of the nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry of Habitat for Humanity, International, working globally to eliminate poverty housing through the creation of decent, affordable homes in partnership with families, volunteers and donors.
  • American Planning Association APA is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. We measure our success by the successes of our members and the communities they serve.



Rochester Neighborhoods

There are many neighborhoods in the Rochester area that work hard on creating thriving communities inherently slowing urban sprawl and promoting smart growth by there very nature.

  • Upper Monroe Neighborhood Association (UMNA) UMNA - Upper Monroe roots are planted deeply in rich soil. From there they grew into one of Rochester's most attractive neighborhoods. In 1840, C.F. Crosman founded the Crosman Seed House at 901 Monroe Avenue. By 1890, it was one of the largest seed houses in the world, encompassing over 1,200 acres. Until it was sold in 1925, the Crosman Seed Company defined the Upper Monroe Neighborhood. However, it's legacy lives on today in the pride that Upper Monroe homeowners take in their yards and gardens, and the affinity that residents feel toward their parks and open spaces
  • Welcome to Swillburg! The Swillburg Neighborhood is a cozy, active triangular shaped 20 block community bordered by Field Street, South Clinton Avenue, Meigs Street, and I-490. The neighborhood is home to dedicated, caring residents. The charming, narrow streets and natural mixture of homes and businesses offer the feel of a village with the convenience of urban living.
  • South East Area Coalition - Rochester, NY The South East Area Coalition is the grass roots group that resources the residents and merchants of southeast Rochester. 2009 marks our 40th anniversary as western New York's oldest Neighborhood Preservation Company. Serving nearly 50,000 people we are the umbrella group for over forty neighborhood associations and block clubs and seven merchant associations. SEAC is a 501[c]3  not-for-profit that works to insure that our neighborhoods are the best places to live, work, play and learn in Rochester.