Book(s) of the Month: Last Harvest

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To keep up with emerging ideas, highlight especially important works, and provide diverse views on issues in planning and design, I will be highlighting some of my past and current readings over the next year. To begin, I’d like to feature a pair of books from one of the best authors in architecture and urban studies: Witold Rybczynski. Two of his books contrast the extremes of development: Last Harvest (2007) and City Life (1995). (For now, I will forgo his wonderful biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, A Clearing in the Distance, and his latest, Makeshift Metropolis.)

The subtitle of Last Harvest is a summary of its theme: “How a Cornfield Became New Daleville: Real Estate Development in America from … Continue reading

Recent Smart Growth Series Focus on Rural Communities (Part 2 of 2)

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Based on a lecture presenting ICMA’s recent report, “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities”, the first part of this synopsis summarized the general goals, scope, challenges, and policy principles for a “smart growth” approach to rural community development. Numerous links to various resources are provided therein. The second part of this synopsis will outline more detailed strategies for rural communities based on smart growth principles.

Strategies to Accomplish Goal 1: Economic Support of Working Lands and Conservation Areas

Ensure viability of a resource economy:

Assess taxes based on current use, rather than at its highest market value; Provide tax credits for conservation; Enact right-to-farm policies; Advocate renewable energy development; Allow value-added farm and forest product processing; and … Continue reading

Recent Smart Growth Series Focus on Rural Communities (Part 1 of 2)

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Representatives from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency recently presented the results of a study, “Putting Smart Growth to Work in Rural Communities”, at the National Building Museum. As we look towards modifications to our zoning laws, it may be useful to summarize some of their findings.

Smart Growth Goals

Economic support of working lands and conservation areas; Investing in assets to make rural towns thrive; and Creating new stable, sustainable neighborhoods and communities.

Defining “Rural”

Simply put, USDA defines rural by what it isn’t – rural areas are not “metropolitan counties”. This course-grain approach, of course, doesn’t help define the differences between and within Montgomery County’s more urban corridors and nodes, its residential … Continue reading