In the decades after World War II, Connecticut grew haphazardly away from its old cities and into its lovely countryside, until much of the countryside was compromised with strip malls and low-density housing developments. The state lost farmland at an alarming pace. More cars added to energy use and air pollution.
In the past four years, a group called 1,000 Friends of Connecticut, led by dynamic president Heidi Green, has helped turn the state toward a more sustainable and conservative pattern of growth and development.
Ms. Green served on the major task forces and committees that have institutionalized the campaign for more sensible and less wasteful development. 1,000 Friends has successfully pushed for laws that promote the development of already built areas such as town centers and that protect undeveloped areas such as farms, forests and ridgelines. Under Ms. Green's leadership, the group has lent its support for historic preservation, brownfield cleanup and more transportation options. It also has pushed hard for regional solutions to a variety of issues.
And 1,000 Friends has developed a project evaluation team that evaluates real estate projects for their smart-growth benefit.
Over the past decade, there's usually been only one or two legislators who have concerned themselves with the damaging effects of sprawl in Connecticut. Now, thanks to Ms. Green, there is a whole class of lawmakers who understand the importance of smart growth to the state's future.
After four years at the helm of 1,000 Friends, Ms. Green is leaving to take a development position at Trinity College. She will be a tough act to follow.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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