The Effects of Unplanned Development

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Lack of planning in community development can lead to environmental and social losses.
Lack of planning in community development can lead to environmental and social losses. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Lifesize/Getty Images)

As suburban communities continue to expand, typically in a random pattern driven by availability of inexpensive land that can accommodate large numbers of cars, the lack of planning not only requires the concurrent expansion of community and commercial services, but it also spreads the blight of urban sprawl and environmental degradation. Lack of proper community and urban planning also makes it more difficult to bring members of the community together because infrastructure is decentralized.

Deforestation

As communities continue to expand without a well-thought-out plan for the integration of residential zones, agriculture and businesses, the buying and selling of property will most likely lead to the deforestation of the surrounding environment. As trees are cut down to clear out lots for construction, soils are often eroded. If construction zones are located near freshwater, eroded soil can run off into the water, causing pollution and killing sensitive aquatic life-forms. Depending on the topography of the land, expansion-produced deforestation can increase the likelihood of flash floods and landslides.

Water Resource Management

Resource management poses another problem for communities that do not plan properly for their development and expansion. Freshwater resources and reservoirs have inherent limits on their capacity to provide for the needs of the community. If a community grows too large, then it must consider radical water waste-prevention methods or construct a second reservoir. In the short term, communities contending with freshwater shortages may need to purchase water from neighboring reservoirs, adding to the community's financial burden.

Urban Sprawl

Urban sprawl is another effect of unplanned development on the fringes of established communities. Speculative development aimed at luring individuals to cheaper housing opportunities not only promotes the expansion of impervious surfaces — roads and parking lots — into rural areas where rainfall could replenish the water table, but also contributes to other problems associated with urban sprawl. Outskirts residents must be provided with police, fire and sanitation services. These same residents must also driver longer commutes to work and other community functions, costing them more money in gasoline and costing the municipality or state more to maintain the roadways.

Infrastructure

Unplanned development often leads to congestion of roadways as residents and commuters alike are forced to navigate through zones that lack a centralized transportation corridor. As a result, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere from cars and other vehicles spending more time on the road. Additionally, the city or state government responsible for the area where unplanned development occurs will probably have to redesign and reimplement transportation corridors through costly construction projects.

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