What is Smart Growth?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Urban sprawl presents many problems and challenges for developers and leaders to solve. Smart growth is one way to create a planned community, and avoid the issues associated with urban sprawl. This type of progressive development includes transportation, construction, and road planning that consist of a wide range of options.

Woman posing
Woman posing

At the heart of smart growth is a theory of central growth and development. This type of planned community involves maintaining a city's growth within its center. It also includes environmentally friendly methods for urban renewal. These usually include building and business placement within walking or bicycling distance.

This type of new urbanism focuses on several key goals. They include increasing the residents' options for employment, transportation, and housing. This results in a local sense of place and community, improves the health of the public, and creates city-wide equity in terms of developmental costs and benefits. It also protects the cultural and natural resources of the area. These goals all stem from the values of community and sustainability.

Housing choices in a smart growth program are variegated. The theory itself requires many different types of housing to be available in order to function. It mixes stores, types of homes, schools, and offices within a neighborhood to provide a pleasing array of life in addition to convenient access to community needs. From an environmental standpoint, it lessens the need for motorized transportation, resulting in healthier city air and less of an ecological impact.

Economical factors are also at play in regards to smart growth use. People in communities designed with this theory in mind should have lower transportation costs in addition to easier access to goods and services. This type of plan also reduces governmental costs, as it requires less land development, highway expansion, and repair.

Resulting urban villages, also known as garden cities, also promote public health through several means. Bicycling is an encouraged activity for transportation. Walking, as a necessity in such communities, becomes a daily practice for all residents. Social and emotional health is generally encouraged as well through close community connections and neighbor interaction.

Dozens of communities in the United States and other areas have implemented smart growth programs in order to cope with growing populations. Cities who adopt this new urbanism cite many benefits yielded from doing so. These include revitalization of city neighborhoods, preservation of open spaces, and a decrease in overall environmental damage. Some areas have preserved their undeveloped countryside through use of smart growth planning.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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