Friday, November 12, 2010

A Summary - Landscape Preservation and the Containment of Urban Growth

Land use and transportation policy co-determine the development of the urban fabric. Sprawling development changes the land use function by developing unaltered contiguous land into fragmented parcels. If uncontrolled and uninterrupted by geographic features, urban growth will continue along transportation arteries and expand outward, creating exurban development to the detriment of surrounding landscapes. The ability to measure sprawl provides an excellent management tool for planners and municipalities to monitor land use development. Municipalities can use this data to strategically implement alternative land use development policies and make projections for future development. Ewing et al. developed the most comprehensive method for assessing sprawl measuring twenty-two factors of development focusing on four major dimensions: density, mix, centers, and streets. Scores are pooled within these dimensions and averaged to create an overall index. The components of the index can be used as a scorecard assessing development trends. Municipalities can monitor development and implement urban containment policies to effectively preserve landscapes. Through continued monitoring, municipalities can later reassess development and critique tactics for harnessing sprawl. The ability to measure sprawl is necessary to implement policy driven strategies for harnessing unsustainable development.