October 20, 2005
Since our classroom discussion reguarding land use and urban sprawl on Thursday, October 13, I have been quite interested in this issue. I am from Albertville, Minnesota, which is part of Wright country. Wright county is not part of the seven-county Twin-Cities metropolitan area, so it was not included in the statistics that we looked at in class.
I was curious, so I looked up demographics of Wright County and found that population went from 68,710 residents in 1990 to 89,986 residents in 2000. This is a population growth of 21, 276 and a 31 percentage change over ten years. In comparison, the average population change over this ten year period for the seven-county Metro area was 15.44. Also, when compared to the top 10 growth communities in the metro area in 2000, Albertville fell just below Woodbury(#1).
Looking at these statistics, it concerns me how much Wright county has grown in the last ten years, especially considering that it is not technically part of the Twin Cities metro area. However, it is the next community past the Metro area to the northwest. I imagine that if our urban sprawl has already found its way past the metro area to the northwest, it is probably doing the same in other directions around the Twin Cities.
The communte to Albertville from the cities without rush hour takes about 45 minutes, and during rush hour, the communte is much longer. On a recent visit home, I was shocked to see how much of the two towns of St. Michael and Albertville have been developed. These are new, huge family homes, and I imagine that many of the new residents make some sort of commute to get to work each day. Thinking of just the environment alone, we now have more families living farther from the cities, more commuters driving further to work, more gas being used, and more emissions and pollution.
Another effect that I have also noticed is the use of land within my town. There are patches of wilderness/wetland/water bodies dispersed throughout the town, which have caused 'problems' for some deveopers. In a few cases, they built around the wetland, preserving only to increase the value of the houses being built. Our mall parking lot was actually built around a body of water. Although the mall has not had major problems yet, certain neighborhoods were flooded during a major storm a few summers ago. This was caused by the natural habitat of the water bodies and the natural drainage or the area being altered. Had the developer not changed the land terrain to build or if the developer had attempted to maintain more of the natural landscape, the flood probably wouldn't have destroyed so many residents' houses and property.
Altogether, looking at my town and those around mine, it doesn't look like development is going to slow down anytime soon. What is important for the environment with the continutation of sprawl is that residents consider closely their effect on the environment and the distance they drive to work. Carpooling will have to become more popular, and many may need to drive more efficient cars. Developers will also have to carefully consider the effects of changing and altering the areas surrounding biomes in the area.
Posted by at October 20, 2005 8:16 AM | 4. Land Use and Land Management