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Home > Student Gazette > Pollution

Cortland’s Urban Sprawl

Brandon , Josh

8 April 2009

We will tell you about urban sprawl, New York State Empire Zones, and some of Cortland’s small business that are not in Cortland anymore. Urban sprawl is when farmland on the edges of towns or cities are turned into businesses. New York State Empire Zones can be anywhere in a town, but urban sprawl is always on the edges of towns.

The areas on the outside of Cortland used to be used for farming instead of the big businesses that are there now. In the 1960’s, the zoning laws changed and the stores downtown started to move away. Zoning laws are regulations that tell if an area has permission from the town government to be used for residences, business, industry, or farms. An excuse for moving stores to the outside of town was that people thought that there would be more space for parking. However, in reality, the parking lots on the outside of town are so big that people have to park farther away from the stores than they would have downtown (in the city center).

Cortland has been part of a New York Empire Zone since 1999. Empire Zones are named after the nickname of New York State, which is called “The Empire State.” Empire Zones are areas of up to two non-contiguous miles, in which tax incentives are offered by the state of New York under the Empire Zones Program. This program was designed to bring new businesses and jobs to the state. Empire Zones are good for Cortland in general but bad for its Main Street. It is bad for Main Street because it takes stores away from Main Street since the Empire Zones often improve other parts of town that are a little run down.

There are only four places of urban sprawl in Cortland. One of them is Route 281, which is a road that surrounds the north part of the city of Cortland and connects to Route 13. There are a lot of national chain stores on the outside of Cortland like Wal-Mart, Payless Shoe Store, Radio Shack, Price Chopper, K Mart, JC Penney, the A&W restaurant, the Tractor Supply Co., and Olympia Sports. There are also locally owned businesses, such as Shipwreck Mini Golf Course, another mini golf course, and Route 281 Bowling. Those are all out on the edge of Cortland on Route 281 and Route 13, and most are big chain stores. Another area of urban sprawl is up Tompkins St. going toward Ithaca on Route 13. Up Tompkins Street, there are Empire Vision, Dunkin’ Dunuts, Pall Trinity, a factory, and a hardware store. Those are some of the many places on Tompkins St. to the K Mart plaza.

Another area of urban sprawl is on the edge of the East Side of town. There you can find McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Cost Cutters, Friendly’s, P&C, Family Dollar, Sub Way, and Joanne Fabrics are all on the other edge of town next to route 81.

The last place of urban sprawl has stores on Homer Ave. going out to Homer. There are a P&C, Dollar General, Dollar Bazar, the sports complex, and a gas station. Those are all of the empire zones in Cortland.

Some Empire Zones include Port Watson Street and South Main Street in town.

Those are some effects that can happen from having Empire Zones and urban sprawl. Those are all the places in Cortland where urban sprawl and New York State Empire zones are taking place.


“Empire Zones.” Wikipedia. 2008.

“Stores in Cortland NY”, 2009.

“Stores in Cortland County”