PASCO -- More recreational opportunities, improved fire and ambulance services and lower crime rates are a few benefits Pasco residents have because of growth.
Properly managed growth can increase benefits and reduce some of the drawbacks, Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield told about 50 people Friday at the Columbia Basin Badger Forum at the Pasco Red Lion.
But planning so services such as parks, schools, utilities and roads are available when a city grows is difficult, he said. Crowded Pasco schools, traffic congestion and a sense of a loss of space are some of the consequences of growth locally.
The state Growth Management Act passed in the early 1990s required counties to set the boundaries of where a city can grow, then cities must plan to extend services to those areas, Crutchfield said.
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That boundary can change depending on need, as it did for Pasco a couple of years ago, because there wasn't enough land for the growth projections, he said.
Completely unrestrained growth is a bit much to expect any community to absorb, Crutchfield said.
Without planning and some oversight, cities would run the risk of getting run over.
Jeff Losey, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities, said planners in the Tri-Cities know what they are doing, and the cities have plans that need to be followed that lay out where low- and high-density residential, commercial and industrial development should be.
Losey said he is in favor of smart growth. The reality is the community will grow.
People are living longer and need housing longer, which increases the demand for homes, he said.
The transportation network and utility systems can be used to manage sprawl, Crutchfield said.
West Pasco didn't develop until after the Interstate 182 bridge provided an interurban loop and the city extended utilities to the plateau in 1993, he said.
Then, "Houses sprouted faster than the asparagus it replaced," he said.
The Alliance for a Livable and Sustainable Community formed in April to promote sustainable practices in land use, economic development, transportation, human health and technology, said Tim Fredrickson, the group's president.
They want to see a community develop that will attract companies, not a community that has to recruit, said Fredrickson, who also is the general manager of Ben Franklin Transit.
"We do not want to stop or even slow down development," Fredrickson said.