Roper: So-called ‘Smart Growth’ forces Vermonters into flood zones

By Rob Roper

At the July 26 meeting of the Vermont Climate Council, member Richard Cowart (above) raised what he admitted might be “a thorny question.” Thorny or not, it was a very good one. It illustrates very clearly how government interventions in the free market, using carrots and sticks to influence people’s behavior in singular, predetermined ways can lead to disastrous conclusions.

Cowart’s question raised the inconvenient fact that policies encouraging concentrated development in existing town centers (aka, ironically as you will see, “Smart Growth,”) is incompatible with the concept of “resilience,” making sure communities and their infrastructure to better prepared to withstand future climate events like Tropical Storm Irene, because Vermont’s town centers are overwhelmingly located in areas at high risk for flooding.

In Cowart’s words, “Vermont has for many years articulated a Smart Growth, village-centered growth strategy, and that’s frequently mentioned in our work with the Climate Council. But, a lot of Vermont’s villages have historically been developed in river corridors. And, you know, if we concentrate development in those corridors, we’re concentrating it where there is increased risk to flooding. I’m sure you’ve given thought to this. How do you square those two things?”

Cowart’s question was met with uncomfortable giggling and a word cloud of jargon. The two positions really can’t be squared.

So, will state policy be to essentially force citizens into the belly of a – literally – sinking ship via (not so) Smart Growth, or allow those citizens to man the lifeboats and develop housing, businesses, etc. on higher ground. The former is more compatible with the Global Warming Solutions Act’s mandate to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the latter is more humanitarian and commonsensical. Bets on which way they’ll go?

Maybe… just maybe… we don’t want these people making these decisions for us.

The author, a Stowe resident, is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Categories: Commentary

3 replies »

  1. Everything the Progs/Dems do to “help fight” climate change ends up dong the opposite of it’s intent. They never fail to come up with another bad idea. I wrote to every senator in Vermont who voted for H.688 and asked them to sign a vow to never use air travel again – their response proves to me they don’t believe their own dogma. Crickets. Until they sign this vow they should not be allowed to make one more move on this issue. Hypocrites.

  2. This is a problem or question for many areas, including several states I am familiar with. It may be attached to different names of programs but the result is the same.

  3. Herding up the masses into a centralized location so we are easier to capture if we try to escape! Dive deeper on just what those in charge had in mind for these thoughtful (from their perspective) utopias. My Lord this concept has been floating for decades – how many feasibility studies have groups profited from – no doubt friends of those in charge.