Shenandoah Smart Growth Symposium

I saw this notice on Hburgnews.com, and I thought that I would pass the message along to anyone interested in smart growth, urban planning, or sustainability. On Friday February 22 the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association is hosting a “Smart Growth Symposium” at the Spotswood Country Club in Harrisonburg, VA.

What is Smart Growth? Smart growth means many different things to many different people. Typically, smart growth is defined as an anti-sprawl movement that seeks to provide a viable alternative to current development patterns and previous urban planning concepts(e.g. detached single family housing, suburbanization, and auto-oriented development).

Smart growth is a growth management method that accommodates economic and population growth while protecting the environment and maintaining a community’s quality of life. Smart growth supporters use land-use policies, zoning ordinances, and legislation to control growth, and they often build regional partnerships to advance their agendas. Some common smart growth principles include:

  • High density
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Pedestrian scaled urban design
  • Multi-modal transportation
  • Mixed-use development
  • Affordable housing
  • Infill development
  • Conservation of open space and agricultural land
  • Preservation of natural resources
  • Regional governance

Many smart growth principles concerning compact communities parallel key aspects of new urbanism. Opponents of smart growth oppose the movement because they believe that restrictive land-use policies limit freedom of choice. Some take offense to the terminology as the term “smart” suggests that we were not wisely using our land and resources in the past.

I must warn you that the phrase “smart growth” is being thrown around almost as much as the popular phrase “being green” (at least in the urban planning world). Developers and home builders — I must clarify that I don’t know anything about
the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association — often use the phrase without knowing what is means. Accordingly, you need to be weary of “greenwashing”or “smartgrowthwashing.”

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