Smart Growth Principles
Sustainability is not just a matter of making individual decisions to use less energy, to replace old equipment with efficient technology, or to buy a hybrid vehicle. The decisions we make as a community will influence both us and our descendants for many years. When we decide to build our houses in areas that require the use of automobiles for almost all activities, we make far-reaching decisions that will affect energy use into the future. Suburban sprawl has created a built environment where utilities must extend many miles to serve relatively-few users, at high costs. Valuable lands were removed from agricultural use and were developed with single-family homes and lawns instead. This land use pattern has resulted in a continued demand for increased levels of energy to provide transportation, maintenance, food and fuel, and other necessities, and retrofitting a sprawl-dominated landscape with more efficient land uses is difficult and costly. Many municipalities in Chester County have adopted zoning and other land use policies that restrict continued suburban sprawl, and thus have helped to preserve open space and agriculture while directing growth into appropriate areas.
Smart growth and sustainable growth principles understand that there are both obvious and unanticipated consequences to our land use decisions. When we create sprawl, we may gain large private lawns and low-density developments but we lock-in an auto-dominated lifestyle that results in lengthy and time-wasting commutes. We lose the ability to grow more food locally. See Smart Growth Online and EPA Smart Growth.
Smart Growth Principles:
- Mix land use types
- Compact building design
- Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
- Create walkable neighborhoods
- Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration
- Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
- Make development decisions predictable, fair and cost effective
- Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environmental areas
- Provide a variety of transportation choices
- Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities