Regarding “Expansion Benefits Everyone” Danville News Wednesday July 12, 2006.
By Van Wagner

I take issue with this notion that expansion is beneficial by equating it with growth.    Expansion and development into Montour County’s forests and farmlands is not the same thing as “growth.”  Sure it often creates much needed income in the short term (10,20, even 30 years).  However, it does not come without long-term consequences.  According to the USDA about 300 acres of Pennsylvania are developed…..per day!   As forests and farmland become asphalt and concrete minor flooding becomes major, flash-flooding as rainwater is quickly directed into local creeks.  In addition, once land is built on it can never be productive farmland again.  In my lifetime I have watched America switch from an independent nation to one that now imports more energy and steel than it produces.  We now import over 1/3 of our lumber.  The thought of not being able to feed ourselves, independent of imports, is scary.

I am not “anti-progress.”   I just have a different view of what progress is.  Progress should be improvement that lasts for generations.  Sprawling developments offer quick burst of financial improvement to a few persons, but do not offer long-lasting improvements.  Ask any elder from Berks, Lancaster, or Bucks Counties if the development boom seen in southern Pennsylvania has improved their lives.

According to estimates from the US Census Bureau, the population of Montour County actually dropped 1.1% between 2000 and 2005.  Northumberland dropped 2.1%.   Why do we need new houses for a declining population?  Also, Montour County had 542 vacant housing units in 2000.  Do we “need” to build homes, or do we “want” to build?  Out of the 50 states, Pennsylvania ranks 49th in population growth (second slowest).  However, Pennsylvania ranks 4th in land consumption!  The argument that these developments create jobs holds no weight.  We have plenty of vacant commercial / industrial sites that could house businesses.  In addition, renovating existing properties creates just as many construction jobs.

If we truly want to “Benefit Everyone” we must revitalize our cities, boroughs, and older houses.   Preserve farmland and rural resource lands.   Conserve our natural, heritage and fiscal resources; and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians

250 years from now how will people view our generation?  Will we truly have progressed Montour County for them?