Project Details


Throughout the United States, citizens and their political leaders complain about 'urban sprawl,' which is defined, subjectively, as real estate development that is not sufficiently dense, is poorly designed, or in some cases, simply takes place nearby. Citizens do not merely complain about sprawl and development, they also enact a number of local programs designed to slow down or better design growth; or equivalently, to preserve open space and working farms within the municipal boundary. These programs are complemented by a variety of planning initiatives at the county, regional, and state levels. In New Jersey, for example, a new Highlands Council has taken over land use regulation for all or part of 83 municipalities in the northwestern region of the state ─ about thirty years after the same approach was implemented in the Pinelands. Most land use regulation in New Jersey remains local, however, and the resulting political conflict features regularly on the front page of the local paper. Often, although not always, these heated debates pit farmers and other large landowners against environmentalists and ordinary homeowners with a preservationist agenda. Surprisingly, the debates feature numerous statements about the effects of local policies ─ for good or ill ─ that are essentially unproven. If careful research could be done on the effects of these land use policies, then at least some of the political conflict we observe today might disappear. This is because opposing factions often have identical goals, like the long-term preservation of working farms. If a particular policy can be shown to reduce, rather than increase, the likelihood of achieving this objective (for example), then it should be rejected by advocates and opponents alike. What is needed is what economists and policy experts call 'program evaluation,' especially that which is objective, careful, and refereed by academic peers. The primary goal of this Hatch proposal is to fill this urgent need, and to do so in a way that is rigorous, inter-disciplinary, and widely disseminated. The project will combine the latest techniques in Geographic Information Systems (computer-mapping) and also econometrics (careful statistical analysis of the kind done by economists) to identify the landscape, price, and environmental effects of a short list of common policy tools adopted by local governments. The database to be used for this analysis goes back over thirty years of New Jersey policy history, and is unique nationally.
Effective start/end date9/1/089/1/13


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))


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