I know I’ve kind of beaten this horse dead, but this environmentalism vs. density stuff just enrages me too much to relegate it to a link list. Here are some excerpts from an article about how the EPA’s proposed new rules for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay could impede dense, environmentally-friendly development:
For decades, the federal Clean Water Act has tried to get communities to reduce the effects of stormwater runoff. Heavy rains often carry fertilizers and soil into streams and rivers — ultimately killing aquatic life in vulnerable bodies like Chesapeake Bay.
In response to tightening federal requirements, the state of Maryland is putting together a regulatory system that aims to cut the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment flowing into the degraded Bay. But opinion is sharply divided over whether the plan will have a good or bad effect on the character and location of future development. […]
In the letter, Potter warned, however, that there are “potential conflicts between the TMDL mandate and Smart Growth” — conflicts that neither the state of Maryland nor the Environmental Protection Agency has adequately addressed.
“I believe the WIP will definitely make it harder to do low-density greenfield sprawl,” says a forum organizer, Stuart Sirota, principal of the New Urbanism-oriented TND Planning Group. “But I am concerned that the [state plan] may have the unintended consequence of making it more difficult to do higher-density infill within redevelopment areas and growth areas.”
Another forum organizer, Jim Noonan, who in the 1990s helped implement Governor Parris Glendening’s original smart growth program, agrees with Sirota that the Maryland plan may hinder dense, walkable, transit-served development — the kind of development that meets smart growth objectives. Noonan, practice leader for comprehensive planning at KCI Technologies, also predicts that unless the watershed plan is altered, it may also spread more household growth across low-density outlying areas, actually adding to pollution problems.
“The authors of Maryland’s Watershed Implementation Plan definitely do intend to discourage outlying low-density development and to encourage infill,” Noonan says. But, he says, “I don’t think they achieve that.”
The plan proposed by Maryland — one of six states in the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed — adds “another layer of regulations and bureaucracy” onto the difficulties that already confront smart growth developers, Noonan told New Urban News. The plan would hinder attempts to establish higher-density living in urban areas, he said, and may also deter attempts to build up existing rural centers.
Noonan and Potter believe that although “compact, walkable communities can reduce pollutant loads,” the state plan does not make development of dense, mixed-use, transit-served communities any easier than development of houses on large lots in auto-dependent suburbs.
The state retorts and claims that it’s already made a number of concessions in favor of dense development, but the fact that they can make the changes listed and still have the plan provoke the ire of smart growth advocates only means that the people who drafted the plan must have had even less sense to begin with.