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Land Use Planning

Key Principles


Civic Participation


Success Stories

Codes / Ordinances

Articles / Publications

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Land Use Planning Introduction

The way we plan the physical layout, or land use, of our communities is fundamental to sustainability. Two main features of our land use practices over the past several decades have converged to generate haphazard, inefficient, and unsustainable urban sprawl:  

  • zoning ordinances that isolate employment locations, shopping and services, and housing locations from each other; 
  • low-density growth planning aimed at creating automobile access to increasing expanses of land. 

The complex problems shared by cities throughout the US are evidence of the impacts of urban sprawl—increasing traffic congestion and commute times, air pollution, inefficient energy consumption and greater reliance on foreign oil, loss of open space and habitat, inequitable distribution of economic resources, and the loss of a sense of community.

Community sustainability requires a transition from poorly-managed sprawl to land use planning practices that create and maintain efficient infrastructure, ensure close-knit neighborhoods and sense of community, and preserve natural systems.  

This section provides an introduction to key planning principles as well as resources for strategies, tools, and civic participation to help your community with sustainable land use planning.  

Introduction to the Causes and Consequences of Sprawl
What is Sprawl?,Vermont Forum on Sprawl
Sprawl & Growth Articles, Planning Commissioners Journal
Using Fair-Share Costing to Control Sprawl
Visions for a New American Dream
The Historical Roots of Sprawl

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