regional planning initiative says status quo is not sustainable, wants residents to imagine future

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) has mapped out what our region's future looks like if we stay on the same, urban-sprawl-lovin' course. Spoiler alert: It ain't good.

The group's "Business as Usual" scenario attempts to answer the question, "What will happen over the next 27 years if Northeast Ohio just keeps doing what it has been doing?" using sophisticated mapping.

NEOSCC's predictions include 2.4 percent growth in population and 6.2 percent growth in employment across 12 counties. Yet given our current land use patterns, about 92,500 acres will be used for new development and 77,100 acres will be abandoned.

That means Northeast Ohio is "on pace to abandon 10.5 percent of its housing units by 2040" or "18 units abandoned per day," according to the NEOSCC.

Although NEOSCC will not reveal its recommendations at this point, staff will present four scenarios to the public at open houses in the coming weeks.

These scenarios include "business as usual" (sprawl with limited growth), "doing things differently" (more sustainable development with limited growth), "grow the same" (sprawl with growth at a higher level than is occurring now) and "grow differently" (more sustainable development with greater growth). 

After receiving input from residents, NEOSCC will recommend a scenario to the four metropolitan planning organizations that help divvy up transportation dollars for the region and create long-term land use plans. Jeff Anderle of NEOSCC says that the group must create a "shared vision" to be successful with its efforts.

"We're not a governing organization; we don't have implementation power," he says. "It's been tricky, but we've gotten great participation from elected officials throughout the region. There's a lot of 'Let's see how and where this comes out.'"

To participate in the process, Northeast Ohio residents can attend one of the upcoming open houses or check out the Imagine My NEO tool on the website.

Source: Jeff Anderle
Writer: Lee Chilcote