Iowa has some of the richest farmland in the world and it is breaking my heart to see it being covered in concrete for yet another unnecessary commercial development. Within blocks of a construction site are vacant office and retail spaces, yet beautiful black dirt is being plowed under to build another mini-strip mall. Across the street, one of the original homesteads is being emptied in preparation to be bulldozed so a convenience store can replace it – even though there is already such an establishment at the next intersection.
It’s the ongoing tension between capitalism and climate – and the planet seems to be losing.
Everywhere you go, vacant buildings stand idle while new construction occurs on pristine land. What happens to the property when the sports teams vacate an arena or Sears and Younkers cease business and leave thousands of square feet empty in malls across the country? We just allow it to sit empty and build new elsewhere.
If we want to get serious about environmental impact, we need more teeth in zoning laws that allow Planning & Zoning boards to reject new builds when vacant space exists or to deny duplicative businesses within certain geographic parameters. I know, it’s not the capitalist way to regulate competition, but it is the government’s role to oversee land use.
Let’s allow some of the land to remain green instead of cement gray while we still can.