A View of the Suburban Ghost Towns Surrounding Charlotte

Castlebrooke in Kannapolis, North Carolina has been described as a "zombie development." Photo: Nancy Pierce

The decline of the exurbs – how real is it? Images like this, from Charlotte photographer Nancy Pierce, offer a compelling glimpse of how recent development spread too far before the bust. The photos were shot about 20 miles from Charlotte.

The Apple Creek development in Gastonia and Gaston County, about 20 miles west of Charlotte. Photo: Nancy Pierce

Mary Newsom at the Naked City featured Pierce’s photos recently as a sort of cautionary tale, but she notes that not all of these places will stay abandoned.

They are haunting, depicting nature reclaiming street drains, kudzu climbing over roll-over curbs, a swimming pool in the middle of a scraped-earth lot, subdivision entry gates looking like ancient medieval ruins. Some of the developments remain stalled, or maybe dead.

Others, too, such as Castlebrooke, may be stirring to life again. As planner Kris Krider of Kannapolis tells PlanCharlotte writer Josh McCann, in retrospect, it might not have been wise for Kannapolis to annex land so far from its core, because that can strain the city’s police force and require new fire stations and water and sewer infrastructure. But the city has already made those investments, and so it needs houses to materialize, to generate revenue to cover costs.

But the photo series and the article, together, should serve as a caution to government leaders as well as private businesses. Is all growth “good” regardless of where or what it is?

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Green Miles evaluates the Romney-Ryan oil-soaked energy plan. And The Chicago Bicycle Advocate shares news of an innovative treatment the Dutch have developed to reduce car-bike collisions at intersections.