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Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Rachel Orlampa?-An interesting Tampa Tribune piece on land use in Florida that offers up this environmentalist nightmare
Wall-to-wall, 86 million people would crowd onto the peninsula. A swath of Central Florida from coast to coast and up and down both sides would meld into an H-shaped megalopolis rivaling the Washington, D.C./Boston/Philadelphia corridor. Wildlife would be trapped inside shrinking habitats ringed by subdivisions, malls and highways. Migration would follow a zig-zag path through the urban maze. Shorelines would shrink. Finally paradise would be paved.
Most of paradise is already paved; if you go to the coastline, many areas are high-rised for dozens of miles, only allowing those with the bucks to be in the hotels and condos to see the ocean. The interior grasslands are underdeveloped, but a lot of that could be used without significant environmental harm. When we was driving up to Ocala Saturday on US-27, we saw the western edge of metro Orlando, where new upscale subdivisions filled the rolling hills west of the "Attractions." Here in Polk County, development seems to stream between cities, where there are small patches of rural terrain between cities; Lake Wales flows into Winter Haven, which flows into Auburndale, which flows into Lakeland, etc. One sign cited in the piece at an area off of I-4 north of Winter Haven- "Future site of downtown Orlampa." As Orlando heads south towards Winter Haven and Lakeland and Tampa heads west (State 60 between Brandon and Mulberry is sprawling nicely), you could see one semi-continuous "Orlampa" urban area, not unlike the urban stretch between Miami and West Palm Beach. Back in my home turf of Michigan, the line between metro Detroit and metro Flint is starting to blur, where Fenton is serving as a southern Flint suburb and a northern suburb of the edge city area of Livonia and Novi northwest of Detroit. Lakeland could wind up serving as a mid-point edge city for both Orlando and Tampa, roughly halfway between both on I-4. People like subdivisions. The crunchy crowd may want to see more centralized growth, but most people prefer the car-and-suburb lifestyle to the high-rise-and-subway alternative. Politicians who rail against sprawl might wind up not only ticking off developers who like to develop stuff but tick off suburbanites who might want to move into the next new subdivision. It will be a political issue, as development will scuffle with environmental concerns in Central Florida (and other places) in the years to come.

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