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Lexington ranks among most compact, connected cities

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington ranks among the best cities in the country for growing in a compact, connected way rather than relying on urban sprawl to make room for growth.

In its 2014 sprawl index, research group Smart Growth America found Lexington ranks 50th on its index of 221 major metropolitan regions in the country with one being best.

Researchers used four primary factors - residential and employment density; neighborhood mix of homes, jobs and services; strength of activity centers and downtowns; and accessibility of the street network - to evaluate development in these areas and assign a Sprawl Index score to each.

"This is the most extensive study to date to define and measure the costs and benefits of sprawl development," said Reid Ewing, Director of the University of Utah's Metropolitan Research Center and primary author of the new research. "We found that in areas with less sprawl -
several quality of life factors were more positive, including greater economic mobility, lower combined costs of housing and transportation and higher life expectancies. This research demonstrates the many ways our development decisions may impact us every day, and informs how better development practices may improve our quality of life."

New York ranked first on the list for being the most compact, connected city while Hickory, North Carolina, rated worst indicating its home to the most sprawl.

Researchers ranked Louisville 161st and the Cincinnati-North Kentucky area 166th.

"Smart growth strategies are about making life better for everyone in a community," said Geoff Anderson, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. "If policymakers are looking for ways to lower costs for their constituents, improve public health and support their broader economy, they need to be thinking about how to improve their development."

"This report will have a strong influence on the next decade of research concerning relationships between the built environment, urban planning, and health both in the US and worldwide," said David Berrigan of the National Institutes of Health, which sponsored the research.

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