Growth isn’t always good

I moved to Savannah from Missouri a couple of years ago. The city I moved from, O’Fallon, is the fastest growing city in Missouri. It shows, and not in a positive way.

We had little in the way of parks, few sidewalks, no bus system, and wall-to-wall stores and shopping centers (and offices). The roads are a mess, and the water/sewer utilities are a disaster.

One of the more famous parks, the Katy Trail which uses the old railroad system to create a walking and biking trail that crosses the state, was damaged when the county decided that heck yes, a developer can build mega-priced homes on the cliffs overlooking the trail.

It’s not a pleasant place to be solely because the county and the city value growth over quality of life.

So take it to heart when I warn you that growth isn’t always a positive thing.

Housing is an issue already in Savannah, as is strains on the necessary utilities to support a growing community. Savannah is already constrained by being bordered by an immovable object, Fort Stewart—not to mention the rivers, flood plains, and marshes. And I’ve heard many folks complain of too much development around already overcrowded roads and freeways. Big big houses on tiny matchbook sized lots, and all of it too expensive for the average citizen.

Savannah is not considered a good place to retire because of lack of adequate medical care.

The real question is: what does Savannah want to be when it grows up?

Does it want to be a major port with lot after lot full of containers and warehouses? Does it want to be an industry hub? Or does it want to be a quaint tourist town with lovely homes and parks and waterfront activities? How about being a new Hollywood or artsy academic center with SCAD?

All of these aren’t mutually exclusive…but it takes care and caution and planning to do it right. What I’m seeing now is less careful planning, and more of what happened to O’Fallon in Missouri. And once you’ve done the damage, there’s no going back.

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