The Role of Brownfields as Sites for Mixed Use Development Projects in America and Britain

By Laitos, Jan G.; Abel, Teresa Helms | Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

The Role of Brownfields as Sites for Mixed Use Development Projects in America and Britain


Laitos, Jan G., Abel, Teresa Helms, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy


INTRODUCTION
I.   BARRIERS TO AND BENEFITS OF BROWNFIELD DEVELOPMENT
        A. Regulatory, Financial, and Physical Barriers to
           Brownfield Development
        B. Challenges to Communities Where Brownfields are
           Left Undeveloped
        C. Benefits of Brownfield Redevelopment
II.  BROWNFIELD DEVELOPMENTS: A COMPARISON BETWEEN THE
     UNITED KINGDOM AND THE UNITED STATES
        A. Responses of the Government and Private Sector in
           the United Kingdom
        B. United States Response to Brownfields and Their
           Development
III. VARYING SUCCESS IN TWO COUNTRIES WISHING TO CREATE
     MIXED USE SPACES FROM BROWNFIELD SITES
        A. Implementation of Brownfield Redevelopment in
           the United Kingdom
        B. United States
        C. Case Studies
                1. Atlantic Station in Atlanta, Georgia
                2. Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York
                3. Gates Redevelopment in Denver, Colorado
CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION

Traditional zoning is a form of land use planning that focuses on separating and segregating land according to residential, commercial, industrial, or agricultural uses. Such zoning often divides uses from each other, so that more intense uses are not located next to less intense uses. (1) For example, only residential uses may be allowed in residential districts, both residential and commercial uses may be allowed in commercial districts, and residential, commercial, and industrial uses may be allowed in industrial districts. (2) These exclusionary zoning practices help to avoid the kinds of problems that arise when industrial factories are located beside residential units. However, the segregation of uses created by traditional zoning has brought about ecological concerns, and a belief that those kinds of separated land use patterns are not consistent with resource sustainability and the integration with socio-economic classes. (3)

Sustainable development focuses on the wise use and conservation of resources to fulfill present and future needs. Unfortunately, traditional exclusionary zoning often prevents land from being put to its most efficient use. When local patterns emphasizing a non-integrated, use-separated approach to land development dominate growth management and regional planning programs, resource and energy consumption are accelerated and infrastructure costs are increased. (4) Excluded development and prohibited uses are forced to relocate further from the urban core, resulting in suburban sprawl. (5) Along with sprawl comes environmental harms, increased traffic, more fuel consumption, racial ghettos, and a disconnect between work and home. Low density, automobile-dependent regional sprawl is, in the long run, unsustainable. (6)

In light of a global economic downturn and a shortage of housing, many communities around the world are rethinking the future growth of metropolitan regions. Instead of creating land use regimes that bring about traditional segregated uses and spatially divided development patterns, urban zoning and planning can instead be deployed to promote resource sustainability by permitting and encouraging integrated uses. There is a growing awareness of the importance of coordinated, but diversified, urban planning policy at the metropolitan level. (7) "Mixite," or mixed use development, is a land use planning concept that focuses on creating urban core areas where people are not functionally separated from what they do; rather, these spaces are where the inhabitants can live, work, shop, and play, all without daily use of an automobile.

Urban planning that promotes mixed-use development is one antidote to the ills of traditional zoning. It reduces the spread of scattered development and minimizes automobile dependency. (8) Higher density and functionally mixed urban spaces can be designed to reduce environmental impacts, consume fewer resources and energy, integrate social and economic classes, and provide for more economical and efficient infrastructure and public services, such as public transit.

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The Role of Brownfields as Sites for Mixed Use Development Projects in America and Britain
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