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TALK FOCUSES ON CONTAINING SPRAWL

Developers who build housing away from existing communities should pay for new water lines, sewers, roads and schools to serve their home buyers, the leader of the "smart growth" movement said Tuesday evening.

Parris Glendening, president of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute and former governor of Maryland, gave a keynote address to 175 people in Rockwell Hall at Buffalo State College. It was the fifth in a series of 10 anti-sprawl workshops sponsored by Partners for a Livable Western New York.

"The development playing field has long tilted away from the center cities and away from older suburbs," he said. "Our tax dollars have been subsidizing sprawl, beginning with the GI Bill and GI mortgages (after World War II) and then with the interstate highway system."

America now has reached the point, he said, where more families are building homes on 2-acre and 4-acre lots out in the country.

"Sprawl stagnation," Glendening said, happens when families build and move farther and farther away from the central city without contributing to any net growth in area population.

"The existing infrastructure must govern future growth," he said, adding that the State of Maryland no longer pays for new roads and water and sewer lines unless the developer has played by the rules of smart growth.

"In Maryland we have permanently reserved more land than we had lost to development," said Glendening, who was governor from 1994 to 2002 and also was chairman of the National Governors Association.

Maryland now requires that new state buildings and even post offices be placed where they can best serve the people, he said. But a conflict has recently arisen, he added, as federal homeland security officials push to locate public buildings away from large population centers.

The federal government still spends $8 on new highways for every $2 spent for mass transit, Glendening said, while Maryland has achieved a 50-50 ratio.

George R. Grasser, founder and president of Partners for a Livable Western New York, presented 2003 Liveable Community Awards to: East Aurora developer Paul J. Bandrowski, whose cautious renovation of buildings has helped revitalize the village; the West Side Community Collaborative, which brought together more than 40 block clubs and other groups for neighborhood revitalization; and the Symphony Circle Steering Committee and Richmond Avenue Neighborhood Association, which worked to restore their two traffic circles.

The next smart growth event will be a panel discussion of area officials at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College.

e-mail: acardinale@buffnews.com

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