The Freeway City
VOLUME 17, NUMBER 3, WINTER 2002-03 PDF Version
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The Freeway City
Is sprawl outsmarting "smart growth"?
Southerners are building
a new kind of city, the semi-rustic megalopolis, hundreds of miles long.
Researchers have found this startling land-use pattern spreading across
the Carolinas and other southern states where bits and pieces of sprawl
blend together along major freeways.
become aware of development that is not really urbanization” in the
traditional sense, says Ralph Heimlich, an agricultural economist with
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Particularly in the South,
you’re seeing growth and development that has no center.” The
South, in fact, has become a trendsetter in the “deconcentration”
of American life—the scattering of people, homes, and businesses
across the landscape.
Until 1950, the typical
American city included a dense urban core dominated by factories and tall
commercial buildings built around seaports and river landings and railroad
depots. The urban core was ringed by tightly knit suburbs, which in turn
were surrounded by open countryside.
After World War II,
suburban tentacles reached into new territory and then filled in with
development. Giant cities grew in spurts that, over decades, could be
measured like rings on a tree, with first- and second- and third-ring
suburbs. Until the 1960s, most suburban workers commuted to the urban
core where business and industry still flourished.
Starting in the 1980s,
some outlying suburbs bloomed into “edge cities,” a term coined
by author Joel Garreau. Suburban office towers and corporate campuses
got mixed with cineplexes and mega-malls and car dealerships. Edge cities
became the new business centers after jobs fled urban cores and inner-ring
edge cities is that everybody drives everywhere.
and social activists have condemned sprawl—low-density, car-dependent
development—for harming the environment and for leaving city dwellers
behind in decaying urban cores. Sprawling development chews up wildlife
habitat, damages air and water quality, and paves over farmland and other
open space, conservationists say. Sprawl is expensive, costing taxpayers
billions to build extended roads and water and sewer infrastructure.
Yet, despite its
harmful legacy, sprawl is stretching beyond edge cities, creating a new
urban form, which gains energy from its spine—the four- or six- or
eight- or even ten-lane freeway. Across the South, development sprouts
from highways like leaves from a tree limb. “Today, the nerve center
of the metropolitan area is the highway, not the center city,” says
Robert F. Becker, director of Clemson University’s Strom Thurmond
Institute of Government & Public Affairs. “This is more of a
linear development pattern than we’ve seen before.”
Arcing through the
southern piedmont, growth along interstates has knit together the Atlanta
metro area, small towns and mid-sized cities and their suburbs, plus rural
areas populated by long-distance commuters, into “a huge countrified
city across a vast space,” in the words of Robert E. Lang, director
of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech. This 600-mile-long megalopolis
stretches along the I-20, I-85, and I-40 corridors from Tuscaloosa, Alabama,
to Raleigh, North Carolina, including the South Carolina metro areas of
Anderson, Greenville, and Spartanburg.
agglomeration is starting to fill in along 150 miles of interstate and
U.S. freeways from Augusta, Georgia, to Florence, S.C. Meanwhile, the
Myrtle Beach metro area is bleeding southward, linking up with growth
from the Georgetown area along Highway 17. And the Charleston metro area
will eventually spread west along I-26 to connect with Orangeburg, creating
a 60-mile-long city, according to a recent computer model.
Such vast tissues
of development have emerged partly because of massive investments in major
freeways. The 44,000-mile Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and
Defense Highways, initiated in 1956, was the world’s biggest public-works
project ever. The system was designed to move goods, farm produce, and
military supplies. But it also soon formed the backbone of the nation’s
highway commuting system.
In 1960, Daniel Patrick
Moynihan, then a university professor and later U.S. senator from New
York, predicted that the interstate network would transform urban America:
“Highways determine land use, which is another way of saying they
settle the future of the areas in which they are built.” Without
proper planning, Moynihan argued, highways would draw people and businesses
to the suburbs, and split and disrupt older urban neighborhoods.
Yet no one in 1960
could have anticipated that Americans at the turn of the twenty-first
century would build homes so far into the countryside and commute such
distances via freeways. Federal and state governments have spent vast
sums improving highway systems, largely for commuters’ benefit, over
the past forty years.
A generation ago,
a 60-mile commute on a two-lane road seemed very long,” says Michael
T. Ratcliffe, a geographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. “But now
on a limited-access highway it’s easier. We are seeing rings of settlement
within an hour’s commute of the metropolitan edge. These settlements
spawn small retail centers that push the commuting field out,” because
people travel from distant rural areas for jobs in the small service centers.
Americans are moving
into houses along two-lane rural roads, setting down trailers on five-acre
spreads, building vacation or weekend homes along lakes and salt marshes,
and buying into large-lot subdivisions in the woods.
“There is a
real desire for this kind of lifestyle,” says Heimlich. “It’s
a development trend that has been going on for quite a long time. But
traditional urban statistics never picked it up. It may not be urbanization
in the technical sense, but it has accounted for a tremendous amount of
The South is where
sprawl is king. Nine of the nation’s 10 lowest-density metro areas
are located in the South, according to a forthcoming study by Lang. By
contrast, eight of the 10 highest-density metro areas are in the West,
where vast public lands, steep mountains, canyons, and water scarcity
have contained leapfrogging growth. A July 2001 study by the Brookings
Institution similarly showed that 12 of the 15 highest-density metro areas
were western, while 9 of the 15 lowest-density metro areas
Cities in the Northeast
and Midwest are spreading out too, but, with some exceptions, they’re
not increasing their populations by very much. The South, however, is
a growth powerhouse in both population and jobs.
Being mostly flat,
the South has few geographic constraints to spread-out development. And
the South lacks extensive public lands or high-value agricultural areas,
which limit sprawling growth, according to the Brookings report.
Perhaps most important,
the South is historically a “wet” region with relatively high
rainfall and plentiful reservoirs, though a five-year drought and rapid
development have severely cut into supplies. In the mistaken belief that
water supplies are unlimited, many southern metro areas, Becker says,
have subsidized sprawl by constructing water and sewer lines willy-nilly
across the landscape.
Yet the South’s
sprawl maladies are just beginning. A recent Transit Cooperative Research
Program study, led by Rutgers University’s Center for Urban Policy
Research, created a “sprawl index,” rating each state’s
vulnerability to future growth in current “sprawl locations.”
According to this index, three of the top five contributors to the nation’s
sprawl until the year 2025 will be southern states, with Florida ranking
first, and North Carolina and South Carolina ranking fourth and fifth,
That said, distinctions
between metropolitan and rural are breaking down in every corner of the
nation. People are migrating from center cities to suburbs; from suburbs
to farther-flung rural areas; from larger, denser metros to smaller, less
dense metros; and even from rural towns to the outskirts. This migration
is so pervasive that “we have begun to change our notion of what
is urban, suburban, and rural,” says Ratcliffe.
once meant a landscape where people lived by farming, fishing, or forestry.
Over the past several decades, though, the southern agricultural economy
has virtually collapsed in many regions. Johns Island 30 years ago was
a major tomato-producing area with 2,500 acres under cultivation and 41
growers. Today, there are three growers who cultivate 500 acres; many
local growers have been driven out by competition from Mexico.
As the agricultural
and small-town manufacturing economies have faded, country folks haven’t
moved away. Instead, they drive to
jobs in metro areas and tourism centers.
Rural places still
exist in South Carolina, of course. But every year, another stretch of
our countryside establishes closer links with a nearby metro area. “What
people are not really acknowledging is the level of interaction going
on between rural and urban areas,” says Ratcliffe. “The divide
between urban and rural areas is disappearing. We tend to think of metropolitan
as urban and not as rural. Yet within these metro areas there is quite
a bit of rural territory.”
Rural folks often
declare they want to remain separate and distinct from metro areas. Yet
old distinctions between city and country are dissolving, and many Americans
who call themselves rural are not, in fact, rural in any practical sense.
“They are urban in outlook, urban in their personal relations, urban
in the way they make their living,” Peirce Lewis, an emeritus professor
of geography at Pennsylvania State University, has written. Even so, they
“proudly claim rural status and are indignant when it is suggested
that are really residents of a city.”
TOWN TO SPRAWL
sprawling megalopolises have been shaped, ironically, by the region’s
history of small-town and rural settlements.
In the eighteenth
century, many inland southern towns were originally built quite close
together. Settlers founded communities along the “fall line,”
where rivers flow off the rolling, hilly landscape of the piedmont, creating
small waterfalls and rapids. Columbia, Raleigh, and Durham used fast-moving
water for power generation, which eventually set the stage for manufacturing.
In the late nineteenth century, upstate river towns took the lead in manufacturing
by exploiting hydropower. Thousands of poor southerners fled exhausted
farmland to work in textile mills.
During the mid-twentieth
century, small industrial towns and cities diversified in the southern
piedmont, producing tobacco, furniture, and other wood products.
Since the 1960s,
state and local governments have offered incentives and subsidies to companies,
encouraging their relocation from the North to industrial parks on metro
edges and rural areas. “That made it possible for (southerners) to
stay in low-density areas and commute in and have jobs,” says Kenneth
M. Johnson, a demographer and sociologist at Loyola University, Chicago.
to the South partly for its cheap land. And southern government made it
even less expensive to develop at the urban edge by subsidizing spread-out
growth, pouring enormous amounts of money into upgrading highways, bridges,
and water and sewer lines.
cities, originally built around railroads and ports, contain physical
and cultural legacies that have made mass transit feasible in some corridors.
Public transportation is most popular in New York City, Jersey City, Boston,
and Washington, DC.
Modern southern growth,
by contrast, emerged in the era of the car and truck. “Because the
South developed later, the car and the truck were more significant factors
in its spatial development than they were in the North,” says Johnson.
Over the past two
decades, the southern industrial base has stretched out and flourished
in a spectacular fashion along freeways, particularly in the piedmont.
International investment poured into the region, which has become a center
for banking, high-tech industry, and automobile manufacturing.
Now dozens of old
factory centers, mill towns, railroad towns, and county seats are growing
out to meet one another, creating urban agglomerations across a vast scale.
“The sprawling mega-regions of the piedmont are the engines of southeastern
growth,” says Lang.
That region helps
drive coastal prosperity too. Residents of booming Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel
Hill and Atlanta are buying vacation homes along the southeastern coast.
The Grand Strand’s largest tourism segment relies on travelers driving
from within 300 miles away, including large stretches of the southern
piedmont, according to Ashby Ward, president of Myrtle Beach Area Chamber
RUNS THROUGH IT
Jon Boettcher lives
in Sumter, a small midlands city (pop. 39,000), and commutes to his job
at the S.C. Emergency Management Division in Columbia 45 miles away. His
commute, mostly along four-lane freeways, takes less than an hour. During
the past five years, traffic and development have increased between the
two cities, though Columbia and Sumter aren’t growing together because
the Wateree Swamp divides them, he says. “The two communities are
still separate enough that there’s a definite distinction. I don’t
see Sumter as part of the greater Columbia metro area.”
But Dick Dondero,
a research analyst with the Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments,
a planning agency, argues that Sumter County already belongs to the Columbia
metro area. “Sumter is really an outer ring of Columbia, though many
people here don’t think of it that way.”
place within the midlands commuting pattern is dizzyingly complex. People,
after all, don’t just commute from suburbs or outlying small towns
into cities anymore. They travel from city to suburb; from city to small
town; from suburb to suburb; from mid-sized city to mid-sized city; from
far-flung rural area to suburb; and on and on. We commute every which
way, and on weekends we travel some more.
On a weekday morning,
a typical couple might travel in separate directions for jobs in two different
towns. On the weekend, they might shop in a third town and visit friends
in a fourth town, traveling everywhere on freeways.
Decades ago, the
American giant city was like the sun in the solar system, with an overwhelmingly
dominant gravitational pull. Now, writes Peirce Lewis, the typical urban
agglomeration is actually a “galaxy” of small towns and mid-sized
cities. The result, Lewis has written, is a new kind of city “where
all of the traditional urban elements float in space like stars and planets
in a galaxy, held together by mutual gravitational attraction but with
large empty spaces in between.”
Sumter County, for
example, has its own gravitational influence that balances Columbia’s.
Its businesses draw workers from west (Richland County, home to the state
capital), from east (Florence County), from north (Kershaw County), and
most of all from south (Clarendon County).
Sumter is just one
planet among many in the emerging Augusta-Columbia-Sumter-Florence agglomeration.
A 1994 USDA Economic Research Service study showed that at least 30 percent
of residents in all census tracts stretching 150 miles from east-central
Georgia to South Carolina’s Pee Dee region commuted for jobs in the
four metro cores. (In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau will complete its analysis
of commuting patterns based on the 2000 census.)
how many rural people imitate suburbanites. That is, they live in a green,
quiet place and every morning drive along the freeway to a job. “Rural
people are more mobile than ever,” says Dondero, “and they are
mentally prepared to commute longer distances.”
have called for “smart growth” policies to control spread-out
development in the countryside.
call for denser housing patterns in cities and suburbs. They urge smaller
lots for single-family homes, plus more apartments and townhouses, in
already urbanized areas. People living closer together in towns and cities
apply less development pressure on farmlands, forests, and wildlife habitat
on the metro outskirts. Meanwhile, transit is more feasible in communities
with higher population densities, so residents can reduce their automobile
According to smart-growth
principles, states and localities should agree on where they want development
to occur. They should fund or support construction of freeways and water
and sewer lines only in designated growth areas. When communities do not
carefully control infrastructure, they end up with chaotic growth.
Developers of office
parks, large subdivisions, and strip development usually want to build
on cheap land on the outskirts of metro areas and along highways where
government has constructed water and sewer lines. As a result, sprawling
growth explodes along these infrastructure corridors. “If you can’t
control the infrastructure, you can’t control anything,” says
Becker. If government managed these growth subsidies, then development
into the countryside could be curtailed.
also call for closely connecting downtown business districts politically
and administratively to suburban areas through metro or regional governments.
have convinced government agencies, individuals, and nonprofit groups
to preserve hundreds of thousands of acres from development through land
purchases, conservation easements, and regulation. Along the South Carolina
coast, the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) River Basin and other protected
lands effectively prevent development from blending together between the
Charleston metro area and Georgetown-Myrtle Beach area to the north, and
between the Charleston area and Beaufort County’s resort communities
to the south.
can be effective in controlling low-density, land-gobbling growth in some
metro regions, experts say. But governments that apply these tools are
pushing against long-term economic, technological, and demographic currents.
American society is racing not toward more urban concentration but toward
For many companies,
location simply matters less than it used to. Until the 1980s, businesses
had to be situated in an urban core, where they could expeditiously ship
out products and import supplies and raw materials via a port or railway
terminal. But improvements in communications technology and transportation
have reduced the “friction of distance,” says Johnson. Satellite
technology, fax machines, the Internet, plus massive state and federal
investment in roads and airports have changed how Americans work and play.
a recent fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, has argued that “technology
made a spreading, decentralized world inevitable, a world in which the
distinction between city and country was dissolved.” Take the catalog
retailer Lands’ End, which operates a national distribution headquarters
out of the small town of Dodgeville, Wisconsin. The success of Lands’
End is partly due to the fact that state government upgraded a two-lane
U.S. highway to a four-lane divided highway in the 1980s. Because Federal
Express trucks armed with technological equipment can swiftly deliver
packages almost anywhere, a retailer can set up in what used to be backwoods.
afford to be out there because the logistics systems are so good,”
says Rob Atkinson, director of the Technology and New Economy Project
at the Progressive Policy Institute, based in Washington, D.C. “Now
companies are able to do all their functions” outside of denser urban
centers. Information technologies and freeways allow companies to be “physically
dispersed while still being functionally close.”
For most of the twentieth
century, Americans migrated from rural areas to cities to find jobs. Today,
skilled workers pick where they want to live, and companies follow them.
“The old economy was all about the location of companies, and now
it’s much more about the location of workers,”
More than ever, Americans
choose to live in single-family homes in low-density neighborhoods. When
a suburb gets too crowded, they simply move farther out. Or when one city
becomes too densely populated, they move across the country to another,
less dense one.
The typical household
commuted almost 40 percent more miles in 1995 than in 1990, according
to a 1999 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Yet commuters
did not spend an equivalent increase of time on the road. Commuting times
grew by less than 20 percent through the entire decade of the 1990s. Americans
spent nearly 26 minutes commuting to their jobs each way in 2000, up from
22 minutes in 1990, according to recent census figures.
Why have commuting
times gone up less than half as quickly as miles traveled? One reason
is that employers have moved to the suburbs, where three-quarters of Americans
now live. The outward movement of jobs has also made it easier for people
living in the countryside to reach workplaces at the metro edges. A worker
traveling from a rural county to an office park on an outer beltway often
has a shorter travel time than a suburbanite battling rush hour traffic
to a downtown office.
Yankee who fought New York traffic for years, so this is easy for me,”
says Paul Pietrowski, who commutes 50 miles in 50 minutes along I-26 from
his home in small-town St. George in Dorchester County to his civilian
job at the Air Force Base in North Charleston. In the early 1990s, he
settled in Summerville on the Charleston metro’s western edge. Then
three years ago, Pietrowski and his wife, Stephanie, thinking that Summerville
was becoming too crowded and expensive, decided to move farther out to
Many Americans have
similarly fled giant metros to mid-sized and smaller cities. The share
of jobs in the largest 61 metro areas declined slightly from 1988 to 1997.
The share of jobs in mid-sized metros (between 250,000 and 1 million),
like Charleston and Columbia, grew by 4 percent. The share in small metros
(between 50,000 and 250,000), like Myrtle Beach, expanded by 7 percent.
During the 1990s,
Americans flocked to rural recreational counties, retirement counties,
and counties beyond the metro edges but within driving distance of metro
jobs. Non-metro counties (those lacking an urban center of 50,000 or more)
gained 10.3 percent in population between April 1990 and April 2000.
Over the past decade,
the fastest growing South Carolina counties were found along the coast.
Newcomers poured into places such as Beaufort County, South Carolina,
home of Hilton Head Island, which had a population increase of 40 percent
in the 1990s.
Even so, migrants
to South Carolina are spreading throughout the state, says Pat Mason,
co-founder of the Center for Carolina Living, a marketing and research
enterprise, “We see all ages, all motivations for moving here. It’s
surprising how many people are moving to places you wouldn’t think
of.” But one thing stands out, he says. “A huge majority of
them have college degrees.” It’s people with money and education
who are likeliest to relocate, and can afford to.
Workers in the future
will be less limited geographically by their jobs, largely due to a confluence
of new technologies. “People are going to make more decisions on
where they live based on lifestyle choices,” says Becker.
freeway system and continued exploitation of technologies will probably
encourage further spread-out growth, says Atkinson. “Our nation’s
economic fundamentals and spatial distribution are going in the opposite
direction from smart growth. Dispersive forces are just going to continue,”
largely because Americans have already created the framework for the spread-out,
polycentric urban constellation. “The infrastructure of the inter-state
system and the inform-
ation technology revolution is already built for another generation of
Now we may have only
one choice. Over the next few decades, particularly in the South, we may
have to accept our overwhelmingly popular urban form: the sprawling “freeway
Is sprawl in your
future? Probably. “Urban sprawl is more or less inevitable unless
it runs up against an immovable barrier” like the ocean or a steep
mountain range, says Rutherford Platt, a planning professor at the University
a professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, has said that
America does not have a future of very compact towns. It’s impractical
to hope for greater densities in most urban areas, because “it’s
not how we live.” The solutions to spread-out growth, moreover, “are
pretty tough: they either involve raising the cost of gas by a factor
of two, or imposing restrictions on private property. And neither of these
things is likely.”
Author Suzannah Lessard
also believes that fighting sprawl is futile. Instead, “we must first
accept sprawl’s fundamental legitimacy—its inevitability—as
a form” of development, she writes in a recent essay. In researching
a book on land use, Lessard began to realize that “visibly or invisibly,
sprawl was everywhere. It was the shaping force in our landscape. It was
the ascendant, determining place form of our time.”
Rybczynksi has called
for improved planning, returning suburbs to a nineteenth century ideal
of a “much more . . . green, country environment.”
An ecologically benign
sprawl? Is it possible to create spread-out suburban communities—places
of elegance, open space, fresh air, trees—that won’t harm the
wider environment with auto emissions and runoff pollution? “This
is happening at the micro-scale in some developments and in some of the
better planned communities,” says Timothy Beatley, an associate professor
of urban and environmental planning at the University of Virginia. “But
certainly on the larger regional scale it’s very, very hard.”
The United States
has some of the most extreme examples of spread-out growth on the planet.
Yet virtually every metropolitan area in Western Europe, North America,
and Japan is experiencing some form of long-distance “deconcentration”—or
urban development spreading across the landscape—due to the influence
of commuting by automobile and the dispersing effects of information technologies,
according to Peter Hall, professor at the University of London’s
Bartlett School of Planning.
In Pacific Asia—from
Indonesia to Japan—outer fringes of giant cities have grown the fastest
in population and land-use changes, says Yue-man Yeung, director of the
Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University
of Hong Kong. Land-use controls are weakest in the metro edges of cities
such as Jakarta, Indonesia, and Manila, Philippines. Now these urban centers
are spreading out and blending into adjacent smaller towns and cities.
In China’s Pearl
River Delta, the cities of Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou are becoming
one continuous urban area containing more than 20 million people. Development
has been spurred in part by China’s first superhighway, the Shenzen-Guangzhou
tollway, which runs for 72 miles through this corridor, one of the fastest-growing
regions in the world.
Many developing countries
have become more dependent on the private car for transportation. Most
Chinese major cities, such as Shanghai, have moved factories out to industrial
zones on the metro edge. This relocation has freed up land for gentrification
at the urban core. Inner-city workers have been moved to satellite suburbs,
where they live in concrete high rises. Now many urban Chinese, who once
bicycled to nearby factories, have to commute by buses or private cars.
China has spent billions of dollars on expressways to accommodate increasing
traffic, while bicycle sales have plummeted.
techniques work in South Carolina?
tools offer the best chance to control sprawl in U.S. metro areas, according
to a new report, Costs of Sprawl—2000, by the Transit Cooperative
Research Program led by Rutgers University researchers. Each of these
smart-growth tools encourages higher housing densities in urban and suburban
areas. Each tool guides development toward central cities, towns, and
densely populated suburbs, reducing growth pressures on rural areas at
the metro edges. Each technique, though, requires strong action by regional
agencies or state legislatures.
The first tool is
the regional urban-growth boundary. With this tactic, a state legislature
requires each metro area to draw an urban-growth boundary around its periphery.
Future growth then would be directed within this boundary, creating higher
densities there. This technique has been used in Oregon and Florida.
The second tool is
a regional urban-service district. A state legislature would give authority
to a statewide or regional agency to designate growth areas within each
metro area. Growth areas would be the only places to receive state funds
to finance roads, sewer and water systems, and other infrastructure. This
technique has been used in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota.
The third tool makes
state aid contingent on local governments creating growth zones. A state
legislature would limit financing assistance for new infrastructure only
for those localities that designate growth zones and keep new development
within those areas. Communities that have growth boundaries would receive
more “points” in a statewide system for infrastructure improvements.
Maryland has adopted this technique.
Two more strategies
could help control sprawl if used by most counties in a metro region.
Large-lot zoning in rural areas—10 acres or more—can discourage
traditional suburban-style development. Finally, governments can designate
land that would remain undeveloped for some public purpose, such as wetland
or watershed protection.
Yet none of these
strategies would significantly reduce sprawl within South Carolina’s
fastest-growing regions over the next two decades, according to the TCRP
report. Smart-growth tools would likely be ineffective in the Charleston
metro area, in Beaufort County, Horry County, in some rapidly urbanizing
stretches of the South Carolina midlands, and in most of the upstate,
according to the comprehensive, five-year study of U.S. sprawl.
For one thing, low-density
development is “proceeding too quickly” in these South Carolina
regions for any measures to make a large dent in growth patterns, according
to the TCRP report. Another roadblock is South Carolina’s suspicion
of state or regional land-use planning and regulation. “There is
little history of strong intergovernmental coordination and cooperation
in South Carolina, though it is improving slowly,” says Daniel Pennick,
assistant director of Charleston County Planning. “South Carolina
has a tradition of independence, of not depending on anyone else.”
would fight any attempt to establish regional land-use agencies with authority
to draw regulatory or public-service boundaries in South Carolina. “There
are horror stories all across the country of people’s property rights
being trampled by regional bureaus,” says John Templeton, chairman
of the S.C. Landowners Association. “The state needs to stay out
of it, and we’re definitely opposed to regional agencies. Local governments
should control their own destinies.”
When localities act
alone to control sprawl, they are usually ineffective, and their efforts
can even aggravate sprawl, says the TCRP report. Development simply moves
to localities that lack growth controls.
The Smart Growth
Initiative, sponsored by the Urban Land Institute and the S.C. Real Estate
Center, is identifying smart-growth options for the state. In September
2002, this group organized a symposium in Charleston, where stakeholders
offered dozens of recommendations, such as creating a statewide vision
for growth, identifying sensitive lands for protection, and improving
infrastructure and regional planning.
But symposium speakers
were realistic about where new development will take place. One million
residents will pour into South Carolina over the next 25 years, and the
majority will live in rapidly growing areas at the metro edges. “Most
new development in this state will be in outlying green-field areas”
at the urban fringes, said Terrance Ferris, director of Clemson University’s
city and regional planning program. The Smart Growth Initiative will present
its recommendations next year.
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Survey. Washington, DC, December 1999.
Center for Urban Policy Research:
South Carolina Real Estate Center, USC Moore School of Business. This site provides links to smart-growth information, including a document outlining the South Carolina Smart Growth Initiative: http://realestate.moore.sc.edu/smartgrowth.html
Economic Research Service (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) Rural Indicators Map Machine: http://maps.ers.usda.gov/new_rural/