"Smart growth" is a popular catch phrase, but it is often misunderstood and misused.
In places where growth is already upon us, smart growth means providing people with real choices for how and where they will live, rather than providing only one option -- sprawl development. Smart growth means maintaining and revitalizing our existing communities, ensuring value from in-place public investment, and minimizing costs that don't get accounted for when we allow sprawl to continue, such as congestion and pollution. Smart growth means more compact, walkable, connected development and redevelopment inside existing urban and suburban spaces. Finally, smart growth means creating choices for how we get around, providing options that include modern, efficient public transit, bicycles, or walking -- as well as automobiles -- for our daily needs.
The fundamental issues at the heart of growth decisions should be quality of life and the future of our environment. As we move forward with new construction and growth we have the opportunity and ability to make informed decisions about the future we want for ourselves, our children, and the Bay -- decisions that can improve the prospects for positive outcomes in both these issues.
Smart Growth Options
There are many ways to achieve smart growth. Here are just a few examples:
- adaptive reuse of abandoned buildings or urban "brown fields" in towns and cities;
- farmland and woodland preservation (see CBF's Farmland Preservation Guide);
- adopting local policies that encourage and provide incentives for more compact, mixed-use development in existing urban or suburban areas.
There are many examples of successful smart growth development in the Chesapeake Bay region, some old and some new. The smartest tool for managing growth successfully, however, is an informed public taking action to promote a high quality of life for their communities and the Bay.