Since 1990 the greater metropolitan Atlanta area has almost doubled in width, from 65 miles across to over 110 miles, giving it the dubious distinction of being the fastest-spreading human settlement in history (Lacayo 45). The insatiable appetite of the sprawl eats up 500 acres of rural countryside every week. From my own personal observations, the graphic evidence of this sprawl is readily apparent. The hidden environmental impacts on air and water quality compound this physical effect for a devastating overall effect. We must take action for our own sake, and especially for the sake of our children. There must be some restrictions on how we utilize the land.
We have just looked at the way we do things how we classify land uses, how we go about controlling the way land is used, and the traditional process of planning and design for the development of a site for those uses. This process provides a logical basis for a sound approach to land use development. If applied correctly, it is one that responds to all of the appropriate environmental issues from physical factors to climatic conditions to adjacent land uses. It is a process that accounts for human physical, social, and psychological needs and characteristics.
The problem lies in reaching an acceptable balance between individual rights and common responsibilities and ethics. This is the sustainable development/ecological planning model that we addressed. What we need ultimately to achieve this are federal and regional urban growth boundaries based upon a comprehensive plan for the entire affected area. To succeed requires a significant change in popular attitude, one that may not come overnight. In the interim, some of the planning approaches presented in this text provide opportunities to begin that change. Clustering housing and other types of development, preserving natural and cultural resources, are ways of beginning to achieve some of the necessary balance in a way acceptable to the general public. After all, as Arendt has said, Theres no constitutional right to a large lawn (Thompson 90). There is hope for future generations if we can all realize that and implement the necessary land use controls to reflect a sharing attitude. As John Lyle has expressed it, . . . we can only meet the needs of humans in an environment where the needs of other species. . . are also met . . . The blending of continuity and change sustainability and development will require approaches to reshaping the landscape quite different from those of the past two centuries (3-4).