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Smart Growth deemed dumb by some in Mississippi

Controversy in Picayune community suggests smart cities movement may encounter resistance

With change comes the inevitable backlash against change. If you need any more explicit evidence of this statement, just attend a Tea Party Rally.

Because I have a tendency to get really excited about the potential for emerging technologies and their impact on our lives and culture, I've been keeping my eyes peeled for viewpoints to counterbalance my excitement. I can't say that I was thrilled to come across this recent story in "The Picayune Item," a newspaper covering Picayune, Mississippi. But it was a good reminder that not everyone is a fan of the smart cities and smart communities movements slowly taking hold across the United States. It's also a good reminder that local governments must tread softly, if they seek to gain the support of those who will fit change, any change.

The story details the community opposition to a so-called Smart Growth plan that is being evaluated by the community. It was even called a "communist socialist manifesto plot" by one citizen who believes that imposing Smart Growth policies is unconstitutional. Hmmm.

Smart Growth, as described on this informational Web site, is an approach to managing the suburban sprawl that is encouraged by current economic and land development policies. It seeks a different approach to our current random, sometimes impromptu policies to accommodate accelerating growth: one that halts or slows the build-out of the same sorts of urban infrastructure you'd find in cities. Picayune was in the process of studying what to do. As you might imagine, many communities in Louisiana and Mississippi are in the process of rebuilding in the post-Katrina era. What an opportunity to do things differently. That is, if the local communities agree to do so.

Incidentally, this link is an update to the controversy going on in this Mississippi County. For now, the county supervisors have decided to call a halt to the local Smart Growth study.

So, how about it? Do you think Smart Growth is smart or dumb? Would love to see your comments.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com