A Growth Management Primer

Association of Construction and Development
August 23, 2012 — 1,254 views  

Growth management refers to "the deliberate and integrated use of the planning, regulatory and fiscal authority of state and local governments to influence the pattern of growth and development in order to meet projected needs," according to the Naples Chamber of Commerce. To a layman, this merely means that state and local governments are bound by regulations and guided by techniques to maintain or even enhance quality of life in a growing community or city. Developing policies related to growth management requires the consideration of a variety of important factors.

At the most basic level, growth management policies deal with general municipal services and infrastructure-related necessities. Local governments are expected to build roads, ensure the provision of water services, maintain public safety and remove waste. However, there are other quality of life issues that should not be ignored, including environmental protection of natural resources and habitats, the preservation of important historical structures and sites, job creation, a diversified economy and affordable housing. The growth management systems implemented by states should focus on these when designing their policies.

According to the Sierra Club, eleven states have passed growth management mandates -  Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. There exists some basic similarities between the legislation of each state. Each mandate provided incentives for comprehensive planning by individual communities, a clear process for keeping plans in line with state goals, distinct mechanisms for implementing the plans, and financial and technical assistance to help communities accomplish their goals.

One particularly important area for local governments to work on regarding growth management policies is the delicate balance between the overall public good and the private rights of individuals, according to the Naples Chamber of Commerce. This is especially impactful when it comes to property rights in cities that are growing exponentially. Critics have argued that growth should pay for growth, which is essentially the principle behind impact fees. Impact fees are charged to new developments in order to pay for capital improvements that are directly affected by these new developments. The fees charged should be reinvested into the city to pay for other growth areas.

Through the implementation of special legislation, states have largely empowered local communities to take responsibility of their own growth. Through growth management legislation, local governments have more power and flexibility, as well as added responsibility, to handle growth in a manageable way.

Association of Construction and Development