Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Macomb is not the evil bastion of sprawl Previous Next
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Username: Fareastsider

Post Number: 218
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 5:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

To often when I hear people discuss sprawl in metro Detroit the prime example that they discuss of sprawl is the Hall Rd. corridor. Of course this is sprawl but I argue that it is not the worst case example for sprawl. Macomb Twp. may have grown alot in population but most of it is in standard subdivision lots at 70x120 lots. There are communities such as White Lake, Waterford, Canton, metro Ann Arbor, Novi, Lyon Twp, Commerce Twp,Livingston County.
Given the rate of urban expansion it was only a matter of time before central Macomb was developed. The density there is better than most newer suburbs in metro Detroit. Lot sizes in central Oakland are typically larger than central Macomb. Most of the developments in Oakland are wealthier and they may not have such a dramatic change on the landscape. The geography also is different. Most of what is developed here in Macomb is flat former farmland. This leads to higher intensity and more noticeable development. In Oakland are irregualar land lots hills lakes and streams. Far less farmland in certain spots. In Oakland they have less density but they spread the car dependent lifestyle out very far. Almost all areas of Oakland today have some sort of subdivision or new residential development. Oakland is blessed with a very nice natural landscape but there are homes in almost all parts. Macomb which is half the size of Oakland still has sections where there has been little to no development. Primarily East of Schoenherr and North of 26 Mile Rd.
I suppose my point is that in Macomb there is density and sidewalks in most any development. The density is far less in Oakland County and the probability for any tranist is far less likely there than in Macomb County. I find it funny that when you consider your options of new construction that if you want the best choice outside of "new urbanism" In other ex/suburbs I see developments featuring more 1/2 acre lots, no sidewalks, rural subdivisions, larger roads. My best examples would be Commerce Twp, Brighton area, Novi, Orion Twp Oxford Twp, Auburn Hills, Pittsfield Twp.
The exurban developments of 1/2 acre lots and large open areas I believe have a worse impact because they create a big "footprint" and require newer shopping centers futher into the countryside and there is absolutley no choice but to have a car. I think that if you drive around Springfield Twp it seems very rural, but behind the nice looking trees are spaced out homes with beautiful property but they require roads, stores, septic systems and the like to be spread out like never before. Of course there is development like this in Macomb but there sure are alot more homes spread out in Oakland than in Macomb.
I hope my point comes across as I hope it has
This is my theory after working for years surveying properties in SE MI. I always noticed Macomb always had more density and uniform standards. While OAkland, Livingston, and Washtenaw seemed to have more large lot developments in a more natural setting. I understand why people enjoy those homes I just think those types of developments require alot more resources. The biggest shame of this type of large land need development is that it ruins the countryside of those nice counties. THe landscape in Washtenaw, Oakland, and Washtenaw is very nice and better than flat Macomb it is just a shame that there you cant enjoy a quite road or area without 1 or 2 large lot subdivisions. Here are some states
2007 population
841571 Area 420 sq Miles density=2004/sq Mile
1219962Area= 877 sq miles density=1391/sq Mile
Commerce Twp
36204 17232 acres density=2.1per acre
Macomb Twp
74157 23385 acres density=3.2per acre
Sterling Heights
127391 23470acres density=5.42per acre
54357 20081 acres density=2.7 per acre
Acres of Undeveloped Land
Macomb Twp=13756 acres 74157 residents
Sterling Heights=4051acres 127391 residents
Chesterfield Twp=9348acres 45000+/- residents
Commerce=9057acres 36204 residents
Novi=8910acres 54357 residents
Orion Twp=12082acres 32269 residents
All of this data if from SEMCOG populations are 2007 estimates and the acreage data is from the year 2000.
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2539
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 5:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well my theory for the slightly worse pop. density in Oakland is that Oakland is more affluent and generally this results in more lot size/capita and slightly larger backyards in the subdivisions.

2000/square mile is still a crappy population density and by national standards it is still solidly in the category of sprawl.
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Username: Jeduncan

Post Number: 56
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 7:15 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Drive up and down Beck, you'll be astonished once you get past M-14 and into Northville, and gaze at all the McMansions already built (and the ones going up). My uncle lives in a "small" neighborhood over there, and every house is easily 3,000 sq. ft.

Where am I going with this?

His neighborhood is mostly empty, as are many of the surrounding ones "starting in the Low $400,000's!" WHAT A DEAL!

most of the neighborhoods going up in that area (western wayne county) seem to be dominated by McMansions.

It seems a bit overindulged to me. I can't relate to why anyone would see it necessary to live in a place that size considering the fact that I grew up with a family of six in a house that is only 950 sq. feet.
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 869
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 8:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Another difference to consider is how much undeveloped land is in Oakland County. There is an abundance of undeveloped land in Oakland County, including lakes and parks, that is not present in Macomb County, which is nearly 100% developed (personal observation only) South of M-59.

But I think the rep that Macomb gets, as opposed to Oakland, is that there aside from the lake/river, most people are of the opinion that there are no redeeming qualities to Macomb County. Macomb is mostly flat, treeless, mid-century suburbia, while Oakland (north of 13/14) is more hilly, more forested, etc. Oakland is also generally agreed to have more cultural attractions vs. Macomb (but not vs. Detroit). Now whether or not any of the things I've listed actually CONTRIBUTE to sprawl, that's another discussion. But I think it comes down to the reputation.
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Username: Charlottepaul

Post Number: 663
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 1:27 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

When people talk about sprawl, it is usually defined in terms of people per square mile. Folks like to use Hall Road (m-59) as an example of what one might call 'retail sprawl.' While Macomb's residential units may be more dense, that retail corridor up there is still a great example of sprawl.
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Username: Fareastsider

Post Number: 220
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 1:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree that Macomb is sprawl there is no doubt about that my point is that I believe that worse sprawl exists elsewhere and it is less visible
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 253
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 1:40 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sprawl is simple. Sprawl is when your urban land use growth exceeds your population growth. If your regional population is growing by 20% per decade and your urban land use is also growing by 20% per decade then you do not have sprawl, you are just accommodating more people.

When your regional population is not growing at all and your urban land use is growing by 20% per decade, then you have sprawl.

"Macomb County" does not have sprawl. Urban land use in Macomb County is growing roughly in proportion to population growth there. Metro Detroit has sprawl because the people coming into Macomb County are coming from elsewhere within the region, and nobody is moving into the older areas to replace them.

Macomb County is just one of the places, and not the only place, where the regional sprawl is showing itself.
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2542
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 2:02 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't get that. You would need to establish a proper population:land use ratio to accompany the statement about proportional growth. Such a statement disregards notions of density. For instance, Manhattan's population, hell any city's population, can grow 20 percent, but the city does not have to expand its land use at all (it's impossible to do so anyway).

Sprawl is a physical form, and there's plenty of good reasons to believe that 20 percent growth accompanied by 20 percent additional land consumption might still result in sprawl, and may be sprawl simply because that sort of land use could have been lessened by building UP or building INWARD. If this region, somewhere down the line, grows 5 percent in a decade (that would be around 200,000 new residents), that does not justify, in my mind, growing outward by a proportion of .05 of the current regional footprint in the least. Think about the density of the new construction that you're giving a free pass to. .05 x the current land area of the metro area is thousands of acres of land on which you're going to spread out new/displaced residents. You need to establish reasonable standards, as well as expectations that 200,000 new residents does not have to create any displacement, especially with a central city having so much vacant land as Detroit does.

With all of that having been said, your point about a basic criteria for sprawl being expansion without growth is right on, for it correctly identifies that any large-scale outward development or new construction on the fringes is 100 unneccesary and must be 100 percent sprawl if the metro population is not growing. However, this is only one possible definition of sprawl, as I maintain that you can have population growth and "proportional" land use growth and still have some terrible sprawl.

And I guarantee you that at least some people living in existing houses in St. Claire Shores or Roseville are building new homes in Harrison Twp. or Romeo, thus making Macomb sprawling in itself, and not just sprawling as a result of regional sprawl. And there is no denying that, regardless of population growth, about 90 percent of Macomb county is, physically, sprawl from a land-use/population density perspective.
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Username: Udmphikapbob

Post Number: 292
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 8:28 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

comparing crap to poop is pretty useless; they both stink.

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