land-use planning and zoning
Much of the hard work for arresting sprawl and revitalizing cities can only be done at the local level.  Even though local development is beholden to many national and global forces, individual cities and towns retain a great deal of sovereignty in deciding how they want to guide future growth. Two legal vehicles for this control include: comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances.

Comprehensive Plan:
The basic, guiding document of the public regulatory process is the comprehensive plan, sometimes known as the general plan or master plan.  Depending on specific state statutes and court decisions, comprehensive plans may be optional or mandatory for local governments. They can be merely advisory in nature of legally binding on public decisions.

Case Example:

· Lincoln, Nebraska.  The cornerstone of Lincoln's growth management program is the comprehensive plan, which outlines planning goals, establishes growth patterns, and provides a policy framework for implementation tools such as zoning, capital and transportation improvement programs, design standards, and protection of the natural environment. Lincoln also maintains control over future development areas because of state and local legislation: the state authorized the city to maintain zoning powers over development in the area three miles beyond city limits; state laws prohibit incorporation of municipalities within five miles of the city limits without city consent and provide a relatively easy annexation procedure; and, through an intergovernmental agreement, many city and county functions are combined, including the departments of planning, health, employment, and human services. Also, the city has an active citizenry that has included re-thinking of the downtown's future development and meetings to determine community goals and objectives. 

Zoning Ordinance: 
Zoning is the most widely used form of land use regulation.  Zoning ordinances include written requirements and standards that define the permitted uses of land and buildings, the height and size of buildings, the size of lots and yards around buildings, the supply of parking spaces, size and type of signs and fences, and other characteristics of development. The fundamental purpose of zoning is to separate incompatible uses of land. Because traditional zoning is rather inflexible, however, a host of alternative zoning approaches have been formulated, as summarized below:

Cluster zoning: Allows groups of dwellings on small lots on one part of the site to preserve open space and/or natural features or on the remainder of the site.  Minimum lot and yard sizes for the clustered development are reduced. 

Case Example:

· Florida: The Hammocks, a residential development, are all single-family housing that have been built under cluster zoning. This has meant that green spaces could be incorporated into neighborhoods and a splendid greenway system could be maintained between the neighborhoods and lakes.  The Hammocks achieves an average net residential density of 11.5 units per acre, twice its gross density. 

Overlay zoning: A zoning district, applied over one or more other districts, that contains additional provisions for special features or conditions, such as historic buildings, wetlands, steep slopes, and downtown residential uses.

Case Example:

· Arlington, Virginia: The Arlington General Land Use Plan was revised in the 1980s in order to direct high-density development toward Metro (subway) corridors.  The potential for increased land value and housing demand along those corridors. The potential for increased land value and housing demand along those corridors posed the threat of displacement for long-time residents.  Committed to the provision of affordable housing for local residents, the county created an affordable housing overlay district.  Under this provision of the plan, in order to have a site rezoned for redevelopment at high densities, developers were required to preserve housing that traditionally had been considered "affordable" or to replace it with new affordable housing in comparable locations.  The county agreed to subsidize these efforts given strong evidence that the developers could not afford to finance the entire replacement.  Developers were able to obtain additional financing through county loans, federal low-income housing tax credits, and tax exempt bond issues 

Incentive zoning: Zoning provisions that encourage but do not require developers to provide certain amenities or qualities in their projects in returned for identified benefits, such as increased density or rapid processing of applications.  Incentives are often used in downtown areas to gain open space, special building features, or public art in connection with approved developments. 

Case Example:

· Bethesda, Maryland: In the business center in Bethesda's business center, a combination of zoning density incentive with a ceiling on potential development imposed by the area plan generated intensive developer interest in projects around the Bethesda Metrorail station. County planners announced that projects offering a high quality of construction and significant public amenities would be first in line for approval.  Eight major office complexes and a hotel were constructed through the optional zoning procedure that became known as the "beauty contest."  In the competition, developers offered open spaces, public art, and other community oriented facilities to satisfy the pedestrian-oriented design criteria of the Bethesda plan.  In addition, the Bethesda Urban District raised funds to redesign and redevelop the downtown streetscape.   The downside of incentive zoning programs is that they depend on real estate market activity and pricing levels to produce results.

New Urbanism.
In the early 1990s, a new urban planning and design movement called the "New Urbanism" burst on the scene, proposing some striking departures from traditional urban design, neighborhood layout and architecture. Essentially, the New Urbanism rejects the norms of suburban, car-dependent, single-use development and promotes artfully designed mixed-use urban neighborhoods that host diverse income groups and races, stores and restaurants, and useful public spaces. 

Case Example:

· Englewood, Colorado: In the struggling inner-ring suburb of Englewood, Colorado, New Urbanist principles are guiding the redevelopment of Cinderella City, one of the Denver region's first postwar suburban shopping centers and an abandoned eyesore for years. Built around a new light rail station, the mixed-use development will have shopping, compact residential areas and transit all within easy walking distance.

David Bollier, How Smart Growth Can Stop Sprawl,a Briefing Guide for Funders .  (Washington, D.C.: Essential Books), 1998. 
Douglas R. Porter, Managing Growth in America's Communities (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997), pp. 22-53.
James Howard Kunstler, Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World  for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 148
Constance Beaumont, How Superstore Sprawl Can Harm Communities, and What Citizens Can Do About It   (Washington, D.C.: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1994), and Al Norman, Sprawl-Busters, at
Philip Langdon, A Better Place To Live, (Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994), pp. 214-15
See the section on road design standards in Smart States, Better Communities, pp. 236-241.
Alex Marshall, "Putting Some 'City' Back in the Suburbs," The Washington Post, September 1, 1996, p. C1.