The term “sprawl” has been a part of the land use lexicon since the mid-1940s. While it has traditionally been prefixed by the word “urban,” rural sprawl has entered land use vocabulary since the 1970s. Rural sprawl can be understood as a demographic manifestation of conservative America’s rejection of the social and economic movements of the 1960s. Much of this rejection involved chastising urban centers and solidifying political bases in the suburbs. However, like the movement to escape core cities during the 1950s and 60s, the last three decades have seen a shift by many of conservative America’s members to remove themselves further from core cities and even abandoned suburbs that once seemed to them like the ultimate place of freedom, away from liberal ideas and people. Today, sprawl is a notable characteristic of politically conservative northern Michigan. Land division continues in the region at a much more rapid rate in areas outside of cities and villages than it has in previous decades. In Osceola County, MI, rural land parcels have gotten smaller, and this reflects a concerted assault on the remaining open spaces and farm lands in that location by politically conservative elected officials who have neglected to engage in meaningful growth management. In the last three decades much of the county’s open space and farm and forestry lands have been lost to the chopping up of many farms and large parcels to lots that range in size from one to five acres, which are known in the land use field as rural “large lots”. This has adversely impacted natural habitats and productive lands. As the State of Michigan decreases revenue sharing to its counties as a result of the current recession and decline of the auto industry, Osceola County government has had to reduce the level of service provision to its citizens. This is particularly true of the Osceola County Road Commission, which must service more rural residents who have sprawled into areas once primarily inhabited only by large landowners whose housing and building infrastructure was generally far apart.
"Understanding Rural Sprawl: A Look at Osceola County, Michigan,"
SPNHA Review: Vol. 6
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/spnhareview/vol6/iss1/2