Land use regulations that protect public health have a long history. In 1189, England required stone walls (walls that divide two adjoining properties) to be three feet thick and sixteen feet tall. By 1297, front yards were required to be cleared and maintained, and in the fifteenth century all roofs in urban areas were required to be stone, lead, or tile, for fire protection. Public safety was the basis for a 1692 Boston ordinance restricting slaughterhouses, currier houses, and tallow chandler houses to less populous areas of the city.
HISTORY OF LAND USE PLANNING
America's first cities reflected the land planning traditions of the early settlers. The Spanish "Law of the Indies" required central plazas and parks in St. Augustine, Florida, established in 1565. English town planning influenced Sir Francis Nicholson's 1694 radial spoke design for Annapolis, Maryland, and James Ogelthorpe's 1733 neighborhood square plan for Savannah, Georgia. There were twenty-four park squares, with forty families per square in Savannah's grid. Twenty-three of these squares remain, and the original city layout is considered one of America's most lovely and livable.
By the mid-1800s, New York City's crowded, unhealthy environment lacked adequate light and air. In 1858, landscape architects Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vance laid out Central Park in response to the need for open space. The Public Health movement of the 1860s prompted New York and San Francisco to regulate tenements and slaughterhouses, and to separate incompatible land uses to benefit public health. In 1869 Olmstead and Vaux created a design for Riverside, Illinois, an English garden-style city using curved, tree-lined streets, deep setbacks, and single family detached houses in exclusively residential neighborhoods. This design became the standard suburban streetscape.
At the turn of the twentieth century the City Beautiful movement used parks and public open spaces as centerpieces of the future city as exemplified by the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, commonly known as the "White City." After the First World War, the movement turned to legal and technical standards for planning. What began as common-sense measures for preserving public safety evolved to include aesthetic, economic, traffic, noise, social, and cultural considerations.
THE PURPOSE OF PLANNING AND ZONING
Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846–1912), the creator of the city plan of Chicago (1909), wrote: "Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty." Burnham was at the forefront of the City Planning movement, the intent of which was to plan for the future. This was done by the creation of zones with separate land use regulations. In some communities, a plan was the basis for zoning. In most communities, zoning itself was the plan.
A comprehensive plan is the basis for current American land use planning. Such a plan must consider the community's vision for future development; the policies, goals, principles, and standards upon which the development of the community are based; the proposed location, extent, and intensity of future land usage; existing and anticipated future housing needs; the location and types of transportation required; the location of public and private utilities; and the location of educational, recreational, and cultural facilities including libraries, hospitals, and fire and police stations. It is also important to determine how a community's natural resources will be utilized.
After a comprehensive plan is in place, zoning is adopted that conforms to the plan. Zoning is the legal tool used to promote the public health, safety, and welfare of a community. Land is typically divided into zones for different land uses, such as commercial, industrial, and residential. Typically regulated are the location, height, bulk, and number of stories of buildings and other structures. Also regulated are the percentages of lot areas that may be occupied; the set back building lines; the size of yards, courts, and other open spaces; the density of population; and the uses of buildings.
THE EFFECTS OF LAND USE PLANNING ON ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Delaware County was the fastest-growing county in Ohio in the late 1990s. With this growth came increased concerns related to environmental stress. The frequency of road rage, for example, increased due to heavy traffic on what were formerly quiet country roads. A detailed environmental health survey was performed in 1998, which confirmed the concerns of public health professionals that more parks, green space, and wildlife habitat were needed; and that county development, zoning, and land annexation were out of control. The Delaware County Board of Health began working to create environmental health programs that would coordinate with land use planning to reduce the environmental stress. The Delaware County Regional Planning Commission worked with communities to identify an environmentally sound vision for the county, and has assisted them in meeting their goals.
Sustainable, livable cities, like Savannah, Georgia, and Portland, Oregon, have many land use elements in common. Among these are:
- Central public open spaces (parks, squares, or water) in every neighborhood
- A variety of architectural styles, with compatible elements
- Retention of history through restoration of structures
- Downtown or village centers with intimate, human scale and mixed uses
- Commercial districts with greenbelts, controlled traffic access points, and sign controls
- Residential areas with traffic-calming features, low speed limits, and separation of residential uses
- Industrial parks with wide roads for heavy trucks and landscaped greenbelts
- Preserved natural features (natural topography, wetlands, floodplains, and water)
- Preserved agriculture areas
PLANNING RETURNS TO ITS ROOTS
The built environment can affect personal health in ways we are only beginning to measure. Entering the twenty-first century, there was a renewed interest in land use planning and environmental health. Authors like Randall Arendt and Peter Katz have espoused open-space community designs for rural and urban areas. A century after the City Beautiful movement, Americans are once again interested in the quality of life in their communities and in linking land use planning with environmental health.
(see also: Ecosystems; Environmental Determinants of Health; Healthy Communities; Not In My Backyard [NIMBY]; Urban Health; Urban Sprawl )
Arendt, R. (1994). Rural by Design. Chicago: Planners Press.
Ewing, R. (1996). Best Development Practices. Chicago: Planners Press.
Hines, T. S. (1974). Burnham of Chicago: Architect and Planner. New York: Oxford University Press.
Katz, P. (1994). The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community. New York: McGraw-Hill.
So, F. S., and Getzels, J., eds. (1988). The Practice of Local Government Planning, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: International City Management Association.
Whittick, A., ed. (1980). Encyclopedia of Urban Planning. Huntington, NY: Krueger.
"Land Use." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/land-use
"Land Use." Encyclopedia of Public Health. . Retrieved May 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/land-use
land use, exploitation of land for agricultural, industrial, residential, recreational, or other purposes. Because the United States historically has a laissez-faire attitude toward land use, the land has been exploited at will for economic gain. Only in recent decades have Americans realized that land is not a limitless commodity. Increasing population and industrial expansion have generated urban sprawl, with thousands of square miles of open space being taken over annually for housing and business. As a result congestion and widespread pollution, along with depletion of water and mineral resources and destruction of wilderness and wildlife habitats, have become increasingly severe (see also environmentalism).
Since environmental problems arise largely from the way land is used, traditional land-use policy has come under challenge. Zoning regulations are one example of legal limitations on land use. Another is the common-law concept of nuisance, which places limits and responsibilities on the rights of ownership. On such grounds, pressure for land-use reform has sharply intensified since the 1960s. It is argued that as accessible land grows scarcer, its function becomes more critical, therefore choice of that function should no longer be dictated by private profit or local convenience. Moreover, local laws and zoning regulations are inadequate for settling land-use questions involving regions that cut across local boundaries, such as wetlands, shorelines, and floodplains, or large-scale facilities such as strip mines, sewer systems, power plants, and highways. As a consequence, environmentalists have gone to court to prevent or resite the construction of projects that would degrade the environment. Land-use court battles have been waged over the siting of jetports, petroleum refineries, offshore tanker depots and drilling rigs, nuclear power stations, high-voltage transmission lines, dams, and even shopping centers and housing developments. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), in its periodic inventory of natural resources, reported in 1999 that during the five-year period from 1992 to 1997 the nation's privately held forests, croplands, and wetlands were lost to development in and around cities and towns at twice the rate they were from 1982 to 1992.
The land-use policy of such public lands as the U.S. national parks and forests is a matter of continuing controversy. Under the control of the USDA, the policy is to protect the environment while permitting some commercial exploitation of renewable resources. Critics charge that the encouragement of tourism overutilizes already fragile ecological systems and that the USDA favors timber companies over preservation of old-growth forests. In the early 1990s the issue was starkly illustrated by the spotted owl, a threatened species whose habitat in old-growth forests under federal supervision was threatened by timber-cutting policies. One possible solution is to create a biosphere reserve, which provides a core area in which no disturbance to the ecosystem is permitted, a transition area in which experimental research is allowed, and a buffer zone that protects the biosphere from external development pressures.
Legislative action has also been sought, with considerable success. The scope of legislation has expanded, as areas once considered of marginal value, such as the polar regions, temperate wetlands, and tropical rain forests, are included in environmental planning. Although varying in scope and stringency, land-use laws are now in force in most of the United States. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires that federal agencies file statements assessing the environmental impact of proposed projects (see environmental impact statement). Agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must now subject their land-use proposals to the Environmental Protection Agency and therefore to public scrutiny. This requirement, along with other legislation empowering citizens to sue industry and government for failure to comply with air pollution and water pollution standards, has profoundly affected land-use decisions. Although conservatives sometimes criticize legislation for the time-consuming and costly obligations it places on private business, environmental activists argue that the act promotes only a modest level of conservation.
See R. W. Howard, The Vanishing Land (1985); S. Plotkin, Keep Out: The Struggle for Land Use Control (1986).
"land use." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/land-use
"land use." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved May 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/land-use
multiple land-use strategy
"multiple land-use strategy." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/multiple-land-use-strategy
"multiple land-use strategy." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved May 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/multiple-land-use-strategy
multiple land-use strategy
"multiple land-use strategy." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 28, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/multiple-land-use-strategy-0
"multiple land-use strategy." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Retrieved May 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/multiple-land-use-strategy-0