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Sprawl is neither the ordained nor the inevitable outcome upon the New England landscape. A coordinated response to sprawl by the public and private sectors is possible, and could dramatically improve land use patterns and reduce the cost of local government. For the New England states, such a response would include, among other elements, legislation to eliminate existing gaps in the land use laws of each state – gaps that presently encourage or sanction sprawling development. It would also include incentives for municipalities to think beyond their borders and to act with greater efficiency and effect. It is the purpose of this omnibus package to respond to both needs.

Sprawl has been well described as dispersed, auto-dependent development outside compact urban and village centers, along highways and in rural countryside. Its impacts are well documented and include, among others, the loss of wildlife habitat and productive farmland and forestland, the draining of traditional town and city centers, a loss of sense of place and community, and an increase in health problems in children and adults due to sedentary life styles.

The economic impacts of sprawl are great. They include excessive public costs for roads and utility extensions; decline in economic opportunity in traditional town and city centers; disinvestment in existing buildings, facilities, and services in urban and village centers; relocation of jobs to peripheral areas at some distance from population centers; decline in number of jobs in some sectors, such as retail; isolation of employees from civic centers, homes, daycare and schools; and reduced ability to finance public services in urban centers.



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