MASS AUDUBON’s study documenting the increased loss of Massachusetts farmland and open space to suburban development makes an important observation: Much of this spurt in sprawl is taking place in communities near new extensions of the MBTA commuter rail system. (“Development encroaching on Mass. lands at fast pace,” Metro, June 30).
According to prevailing “smart growth” thinking, that wasn’t supposed to happen. We were supposed to see transit-oriented development, new apartment complexes, and commercial nodes concentrated near commuter rail stations. Instead, we see places like Plymouth, Carver, Wareham and Middleboro — all near new commuter rail lines — leading the state in creation of suburban sprawl and destruction of natural habitat.
Instead of the promised concentrated residential development, giant parking lots are being built next to the commuter rail stations to accommodate the cars of the new suburbanites. This would not be happening without commuter rail extensions. It is transit-oriented development to be sure, but not the kind the planners predicted.