Feeling Crowded, Long Island Looks To Smart Growth

There's a way to ease the housing shortage on New York's Long Island without building on its few remaining open spaces.

Researchers have found enough room on parking lots and near train stations to fit 90,000 new townhomes and apartments into the older, sometimes scruffy downtowns of Long Island, according to a new report by the researchers at Long Island 2010.

Regional planning ideas like this could help towns build for the future - and get at millions of dollars in federal funding earmarked to help pay for this kind of planning and development. At the same time, it could help preserve the remaining natural spaces on the island, which juts out into the Atlantic, and cut down on its notorious traffic.

The report, Places to Grow, An Analysis of the Potential for Transit-Accessible Housing and Jobs in Long Island's Downtown and Station Areas, found roughly 8,300 acres of unbuilt land in over 150 village downtowns and rail station areas that could be used for mixed-use development.

"Growth is likely to occur even if communities on Long Island try to limit it," reads the report. "Without additional housing in its downtowns, more of this growth will come in the form of illegal housing and continued sprawl in undeveloped areas."