The League of Women Voters on Tuesday continued its regional campaign to educate the public on the consequences of sprawl, convening a panel of regionalism and smart-growth advocates to offer diverse points of view on the topic.
The backdrop for the public forum held in the Harlem Road Community Center in Amherst was the League's 2004 report, "At Taxpayer's Expense: How Government Policies Encourage Sprawl in Erie and Niagara Counties," which it has presented to numerous town and planning boards.
"There are many ways that decisions made by local governments add to the problem of unchecked growth, even if all they do is subtract something vital from the quality of life of their communities," said Anne Huberman, chairwoman of the League's Local Government Committee.
"Planning and managing growth are fundamental responsibilities of local governments," Huberman added at the close of her presentation before introducing the panel.
They included Laura St. Pierre Smith, a member of the steering committee on the Erie-Niagara Framework for Regional Growth and vice president for business development of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. She said regional planning is a major concern to its members.
"Our members want to have a sense of certainty and clarity about development . . . basically a plan that establishes basic principles and guidelines for the towns in Erie and Niagara counties to use when considering decisions on growth and re-investment," Pierre Smith said.
Panelist Kevin Grasser, president of Partners for a Livable Western New York, addressed the issue from a land-use perspective, saying there are many reasons why new development tends to be more attractive than building in developed areas, but there are consequences when too much attention is paid to new development.