Urban sprawl is another word for solitude
The Columbus Dispatch Wednesday, July 5, 2001
A USA Today article about urban sprawl caught my eye not too long ago.
Most people would say they oppose urban sprawl. What attracted my attention
was the newspaper's definition of what sprawl is and isn't.
What it described as the alternative to urban sprawl is something I have
heard many a civic association rail against.
What is not urban sprawl, the newspaper said, is lots of people stacked on
top of one another, such as in apartments and condominiums.
What is urban sprawl, according to the newspaper, is what I and many of my
neighbors consider a bucolic, peaceful lifestyle -- one house on 5 acres.
But why should four or five people -- two parents and a few children, for
example, get to occupy 5 acres?
Some of us have grazing animals -- principally horses -- which seems fair
because they need the land to survive. But many don't. They just mow.
One solution to taking up more space than is necessary -- the dictionary
definition of sprawl, by the way -- is the so-called "farm village," which
puts houses close together and leaves a large area of land that can still be
At first blush, it seems like a good idea. but if I wanted to live close to
someone, I would have bought a house in Clintonville.
I like being able to leave all my windows open at night and be awakened by
the birds, not by my neighbor's lawn mower.
I like that my dogs can romp in the yard and still be in the yard, not in my
neighbor's yard within a few running steps.
And I like that cars pass so seldomly on my road late at night that my dogs
can still be roused to bark at them.
Not to mention that some aspects of farming can be annoying to nonfarmers,
such as the odors of animal wastes.
That's why I think few people will embrace farm villages, as logical as they
The day may come when we can't afford such luxuries of space -- and it's
good to plan for such things.
But until then, I can't resist reveling in the fact that those times aren't
here yet. And in my blessed solitude.
Why should four or five people monopolize 5 acres? Because we still can.
Dispatch columnist John Switzer has the day off. Carol Ann Lease is an
assistant city editor.