March 26, 2004

Shrewsbury ‘Smart Growth’ Plan

Shrewsbury is talking about a smart growth, New Urbanism-type plan for its Rte. 9 corridor -- replacing unloved and ugly auto-centric suburban sprawl with a more traditional "town center" idea.

Some people think "smart growth" is a code word for "no growth," but that's not the case. Instead, it's development that balanced: making it appealing for walking around as well as accessible by car.

Buildings could have ground floor retail with residences upstairs, the Boston Globe reports. And, the buildings would need to have pedestrian-friendly features like front patios and seating areas (I find little more delightful in an urban environment on a nice spring day than strolling a wide, well-landscaped sidewalk filled with people enjoying the day at outdoor cafes).

These kinds of developments can still provide parking -- but not as a sea of asphalt with buildings in the middle, hostile to any access by foot. Put parking in the rear, and things work well for everyone -- think Concord center, for example.

There's a bit more info on the Shrewsbury town Web site.

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