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The conflict between zoning policy, economic development and cultural preservation in the rural/urban fringe : the Hartford region as an example

Myers, Donald H. author ;Rickard, Timothy J. thesis advisor


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  • Title:
    The conflict between zoning policy, economic development and cultural preservation in the rural/urban fringe : the Hartford region as an example
  • Author/Creator: Myers, Donald H. author
  • Rickard, Timothy J. thesis advisor; Central Connecticut State University. Department of Geography.
  • Creation Date: 1996
  • Language: English
  • Physical Description: x, 156 leaves : maps ; 29 cm.; paper 29 cm. ink typescript.
  • Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 146-155).
  • Subjects: Rural development -- United States; Economic zoning; Urban-rural migration
  • Description: This study has been undertaken to investigate the rapid suburbanization observed within the Hartford Region rural-urban fringe. Despite efforts to halt the process at the state and local level by professionals, academics, public servants, and concerned individuals, the conversion of rural countryside and loss of agricultural land to exurban residential development continues unabated by all but the most severe of economic recessions. Yet, if the communal intent is to preserve our rural heritage and still provide meaningful and remunerative occupations for the inhabitants of these towns, why has public policy continued to fail so completely? Private motivations which provide the emotional backdrop for new construction within the rural-urban fringe, fear and greed, are not the subject of the study, although they greatly affect public policy in creation and enforcement. It is public policy which is malleable and enforceable which can have the most effect upon cultural preservation and economic development. One concept which has become clear over time is that the political process cannot regulate human nature. The United States proved that with Prohibition during the 1920's. But, the political process, such as the enactment of certain tax policies, can encourage certain behaviors, and discourage others. Most importantly for this study, the political process has the right to determine, via zoning regulations, what can or cannot be built, and which occupations can be undertaken, and under what conditions. Therefore, it follows that part of the failure to preserve the rural character of the urban fringe lies predominantly with the process of regulation. This has been the thesis of this study: that traditional zoning regulation bas a negative effect upon the preservation of rural character and economic development within the urban fringe. The study has followed a method of investigation which begins with observations of conditions in the rural-urban fringe, and a review of literary sources which defines the context of the problem; the character of the social and technological forces which are accelerating this expansion as the 21st Century nears. The second portion of the research, using a case study and literary sources, has evaluated the process of suburbanization at the fringe to give some understanding of the effects of certain policies, and of the extent of the damage being done. This chapter is followed by a review and evaluation of recent proposals from professionals and academics that have attempted to ameliorate these conditions in Connecticut and other parts of the United States, Canada, and England. The investigation proceeds to the local level, creating a working definition of the Hartford Region, and then identifying those communities which are still sufficiently undeveloped to be considered at least rural in appearance, if not function. Four of these towns, Andover, Ashford, Granby, and Hartland, are selected for a comparison of their stated goals as opposed to their regulatory policies. What has been discovered is that present methods of regulation clearly do not protect the rural character of a community, and seriously impact the town's capacity for economic development. The result has been a gradual suburbanization of the landscape, and creation of distinct social inequities as rural land prices accelerate beyond their agricultural value. The proposed solutions have had little positive effect as well. All they have succeeded in doing, other than some farm preservation, about 25,000 acres in Connecticut, is making worse the artificial scarcity encouraged by traditional zoning methods. Any modifications to zoning policies must address the issue of social equality to avoid the creation of rural compounds only for a single economic class. Rural character is as much a blend of people as it is a visual aspect. Policies need to be based more upon common sense, adjustment to social and technological change, and economic need rather than the maximization of local land values. Until that happens, these formerly rural communities will continue to progress from farmland and woodlot to rural residential exurb, to suburb with all that connotes.
  • Notes: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 146-155).
  • Degree Granted: M.S. Central Connecticut State University 1996
  • OCLC Number: 36134475