Saturday, February 13, 2016

Money Crashers: What Is Smart Growth

Three years back, I talked about how I considered small towns like the one where I live to be the best of all worlds for people who want to live an ecofrugal life. I pointed out that our town offers "all the perks of suburban living without the sprawl," including good schools, a variety of housing and shopping options, and a good public library—all within walking distance. This partly explains why, at least in New Jersey, towns are attracting a lot more new residents than suburbs.

What I didn't say explicitly at the time, but probably should have, is that this kind of development—compact and walkable, with homes and businesses close together—is a textbook example of "smart growth." This type of development, which is designed to protect the environment and improve quality of life, is based on ten basic principles:
  1. Mixed land use, with housing and retail close together
  2. Compact development (sometimes worded as "growing up, not out")
  3. Varied housing choices
  4. Walkable neighborhoods
  5. Distinctive communities
  6. Open space
  7. Developing within existing borders
  8. Transportation choice
  9. Supportive government
  10. Community involvement
Pretty much everything that makes Highland Park, and other towns like it, such ecofrugal places to live fits somewhere on this list. It's because our town fits these smart-growth principles that Brian can bike to work, I can run errands on foot during the day, we can walk in the park when the weather is nice, and we can stay in with books and movies from the library when it isn't.

So I've written a piece for Money Crashers all about smart growth. I cover the ten principles in more detail; go into the many benefits of smart growth for the economy, environment, and communities; provide several real-life, award-winning examples of smart-growth projects; and conclude with advice on how to get involved with the smart-growth movement where you live. I hope this article will serve as a useful basic primer for anyone who wants to know what smart growth is all about.

You can read it here: What Is Smart Growth – Urban Planning Principles, Benefits & Examples

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