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Choking Slowly: Is Managing (or Smart) Growth Just Planning a Slow(er) Demise (and if It Is, Is There an Alternative)?

April 2003

Citation: 33 ELR 10280

Issue: 4

Author: Lee R. Epstein

Given the steady march of adverse environmental impacts and inimical socioeconomic and community change at the local level in many metropolitan areas—due in part to haphazard growth—this Article identifies and examines a significant concern with how we have tried to manage sprawl into the rural parts of regions. Planners' heavy reliance upon programs and policies that are time-limited or mostly serve to pace growth may merely delay an inevitable environmental and economic decline. This Article analyzes the legal possibilities of stronger, more definitive policies. It then proposes an approach that combines several mechanisms that might, acting together, help avoid the pitfalls of relying chiefly upon temporal urban containment tools.

Lee Epstein is Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Lands Program. He received his J.D. and M.U.R.P. from the George Washington University and his B.A. from Dickinson College. The author gratefully acknowledges the research assistance of Mike Bloomquist and Larry Roberts of Patton Boggs, L.L.P. and Steve Libbey of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Peter Robertson of Patton Boggs, L.L.P., Dana Beach of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Edward R. Thompson Jr., of the American Farmland Trust, and Edward T. McMahon of The Conservation Fund helped by reviewing drafts of this Article.

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