Some 150 smallish pages on the preservation of open space--to protect farmland and water-resources--that could,...



Some 150 smallish pages on the preservation of open space--to protect farmland and water-resources--that could, beneficially, have been boiled down to 20. Lemire was instrumental in countering development pressures in Lincoln, Mass., where he lives, and has since been telling ""the Lincoln story"" around the country. Here it is preceded by a rostrum-style summary of the three-in-one problem of population growth, urban sprawl, and vanishing cropland (least known, perhaps: how much of our most nutritious food--fruits and vegetables--is grown on the most-threatened land); and by a sketchy rundown of trouble spots, from Greater Boston (whose notorious ring-roads wreak havoc, too, on the water supply) to the state of Oregon--where farmland is protected by non-compensatory zoning which, Lemire feels, is ill-advised and potentially illegal. ""There is a school of thought,"" he writes, ""that fears that compensating land-owners who for the public good are denied the right to convert their land from one use to another will lead to national bankruptcy""; and it is largely to demonstrate that other options exist, besides these two alternatives, that he presents Lincoln's experience. There--in the home of Walden Pond, pre-Revolutionary families and upper-echelon commuters--open land was saved first by outright purchase (via a trust and bank loans secured by individual guarantees) and then by what Lemire calls, not unjustifiably, ""creative development."" Close study revealed, in brief, that low- and moderate-income cluster housing would cost the town less in services (schools, roads, etc.) than single-family dwellings on two-acre plots--and permit the retention of open land. Thus, the landowner could be adequately compensated, the town could achieve greater social diversity, development and preservation pressures could be reconciled. Lemire is sensitive to charges that Lincoln isn't typical; but neither is it so exceptional as to invalidate either his thesis or the means that he and his associates developed to put it across. Other suburbs in the same bind might well take note.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 1979


Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1979

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