Clergy to Discuss Land-Use Planning Sumdeck: Local Leaders

Article excerpt

* Local leaders consider impact of urban sprawl on city and aging suburbs.

Land-use planning is a hot issue among religious leaders. Two interfaith groups, in Chicago and Portland, Ore., drew praise Thursday in Washington for pushing for land-use legislation that connects the environment and poverty issues.

This morning at St. Louis University, 60 area clergy leaders are asking state lawmakers to consider land-use legislation in Missouri. A half-dozen lawmakers promised to attend. Fast expansion of the region's rim can leave a doughnut hole in the city and its aging ring suburbs, said the featured speaker, David Rusk. He's a former mayor of Albuquerque, N.M., and the author of books on land-use policy. He also will lament the loss of rich farmland, forests and green space. "It's called urban sprawl, but no one talks about it," said the Rev. Sylvester Laudermill Jr., pastor of St. Peter's African Methodist Episcopal Church in the city's Penrose neighborhood. He heads The Metropolitan Table, the sponsor of the meeting. The new alliance is made up of three urban interfaith groups: Churches United for Community Action, or CUCA; Congregations Allied for Community Improvement, or CACI; and Churches Committed to Community Concerns, or C4. When Laudermill began preaching about urban sprawl last summer, his congregation never had considered that what happened in outlying counties affected them. The St. Louis region is spreading like an octopus, he said. Since 1960, the population has grown only 17 percent, but metro land use has grown 125 percent. That's using land seven times faster than the regional population grew, he said. New roads, sewers, water lines, schools, libraries, police and other services for new subdivisions draw resources from older areas, he said. …