Planning and Policy Tools - Growth Management

What is growth management?

Growth management refers to strategies used by government agencies at all levels to help guide the type, intensity, location, and timing of new development. Interest in these strategies often stems from concerns about the compatibility of new growth with surrounding uses and/or the need to minimize the costs associated with supplying public services to support new development.

Why and where are they applied?

Growth management tools are applicable to all geographic contexts and scales, though they are most successfully implemented when applied comprehensively to a region or statewide. Specific growth management strategies vary greatly around the country. In some states, local growth management strategies may first necessitate enabling legislation at the state level.

The need for growth management strategies is typically a function of the rate of current or projected growth in an area. There is no one-size-fits-all growth management strategy, and typically, a blend of strategies will be necessary. For example, strategies such as urban growth boundaries can help direct the location of future land and infrastructure development. This strategy should be complemented with land conservation strategies that provide rural landowners with viable alternatives to developing land that resides outside of designated growth areas.

Desired outcomes of growth management may include more efficient provision of public infrastructure and services, preservation of rural or environmentally sensitive lands, economic development, or the provision of affordable housing. Growth management strategies may be implemented in the form of state or local regulations, local growth policies (comprehensive plans), fees, or incentives.

Where can I get more information?