Why Environmentally Constrained Towns Choose Growth Controls

Karen M. O'Neill, Thomas K. Rudel, Melanie H. Mcdermott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Growth controls and growth management are nearly as common as progrowth boosterism in parts of the United States. Growth machine and associated urban regime theories propose that mobilized, upper-income communities are most likely to pursue growth management. Yet other types of communities now also attempt to manage growth. To explain this anomaly, political economy approaches must be supplemented. We assess the explanatory power of the cultural landscape concept founded, in part, on conditions of the built and natural environment. We studied four towns ranging in income and in proportion of developed land in New Jersey's Highlands, a rural-urban fringe region. In three towns, including a lower-income farming town, policies evolved to interpret features like steep slopes or farms as posing barriers to intensive development. In revealing this interpretive shift, the cultural landscape concept complements political economy theories by explaining why even unlikely towns may choose to manage growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-130
Number of pages20
JournalCity and Community
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Urban Studies

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