Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

citiboi27610

Urban Growth Boundary

35 posts in this topic

If you don't know, an UGB is a boundary implemented by the city or state government around a town or city to curb development. Generally, inside the boundary is where developers can create urban developments and outside is used to provide open space and preservation of farm lands. The general idea is to encourage in-fill and mixed-use higher density developments.

The concept is much better explained in these articles:

Canada West Foundation -- Are UGBs effective?

Sprawlwatch.org - Urban Growth Boundaries

Wikipedia - Urban Growth Boundaries

I think that our local governments would be making a big step in the right direction to implement these. The city stretches so far but there's still alot of vacant land or even lots that have been vacated as businesses have also moved to 'better locations'. A Raleigh UGB would encourage builders to develop in these areas, the ones that need to most. I hope developers won't be scared away but that they will build smarter developments all over.

I put together a map to demonstrate my thoughts. The red represents natural boundaries (other cities, Neuse River) and the blue represents a border across North Raleigh. Take notice that South Raleigh, an area often neglected (east and west) is not bordered off completely.

RaleighUGB.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


This is a great topic. There are certainly theoretical virtues to a UGB. The three big problems are:

* Landowner rights - If I own property just outside of the boundary, why can I not do something neat with it while someone just inside of it can build a crappy strip shopping center like the one at the Plantation Inn?

* Skyrocketing Real Estate - With far fewer opportunities for real estate (because outward expansion is lopped off of the market), market forces will push prices for real estate upward sharply.

* NIMBYs - It's hard enough to get infill projects going as it is. However the developer always has the option of telling the NIMBYs he'll sell the property and go develop a North Hills somewhere else if they don't like the plan. With the alternative gone, NIMBYs will be able to push and modify projects to the point of losing key elements of the project's success.

I suppose that Portland is the best example with the most written about this subject???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great topic. There are certainly theoretical virtues to a UGB. The three big problems are:

* Landowner rights - If I own property just outside of the boundary, why can I not do something neat with it while someone just inside of it can build a crappy strip shopping center like the one at the Plantation Inn?

* Skyrocketing Real Estate - With far fewer opportunities for real estate (because outward expansion is lopped off of the market), market forces will push prices for real estate upward sharply.

* NIMBYs - It's hard enough to get infill projects going as it is. However the developer always has the option of telling the NIMBYs he'll sell the property and go develop a North Hills somewhere else if they don't like the plan. With the alternative gone, NIMBYs will be able to push and modify projects to the point of losing key elements of the project's success.

I suppose that Portland is the best example with the most written about this subject???

An imaginary boundary won't solve all the problems, obviously. I think its worth the thought of our government. I belive that the sprawl here is getting way out of control and more and more we're loosing chances for valuble development. I don't want to see our natural (Falls Lake) and political boundaries (Wake County line) to be where development in Raleigh proper finally stops and then decides to fill in the gaps. Thats not the way it suppose to be. North Raleigh would be my choice for implementing a boundary as to encourage housing developements like Wakefield and Breir Creek to create change in other parts of the city. The best option maybe to have incentive/reprimands for building inside/outside the boundary.

I have to drive up and down Capital Blvd everyday, and its amazing to see how at the North End there's is flourishment. Not even 2 miles past Triangle Towne Center there are shopping Centers that are fading away (Tarrymore and Ashton Squares and several others.) Further down, the dealership right past the beltline closed down and from there to downtown there are plenty of vacnat properties and land that could be really promising with the right developers. We've attracted developers that can make a lot out of nothing, but I with their creative energies could be redirected to in-town sites rather than the fringe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to drive up and down Capital Blvd everyday, and its amazing to see how at the North End there's is flourishment. Not even 2 miles past Triangle Towne Center there are shopping Centers that are fading away (Tarrymore and Ashton Squares and several others.) Further down, the dealership right past the beltline closed down and from there to downtown there are plenty of vacnat properties and land that could be really promising with the right developers. We've attracted developers that can make a lot out of nothing, but I with their creative energies could be redirected to in-town sites rather than the fringe.

One problem that you have with retail developers is that they will always follow suit with the residential developers. Retailers are not as likely to develop in an area where there is little to no market for them. Retailers must be able to make a profit on a daily to weekly business without closing up shop. It only makes sense that they chase new devlopments with a huge influx of population and little competition.

It all starts with the residential developments. The more people that we have living closer to the core of the city, the more likely we will see they sprawling, strip mall demand slip and urban infill rise. All of these residential development must include a mix of housing prices. If everything is priced through the roof, then demand will not continue at an increasing rate.

There are so many factors involved that I can't even come up with a clear cut answer. You can't force landowners to low-ball what they want for their land just to attract needed development and infill. Sometimes it looks like a circular pattern that is very hard to reverse.

Maybe the city could look at tax incentives and/or subsidies for developers who chose to construct in an area inside the beltline or an imaginary boundary proposed. I am usually very opposed to such a suggestion because I do beleive in the free market, but then again, developers choosing to do infill projects cuts down on the city's expenses in the form of reduced infrastructure needs. It does seem plausible to hold developers creating sprawling neighborhoods and strip centers more accountable to the investments needed in the form of road construction, utilities and 911 services.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to drive up and down Capital Blvd everyday...

Ugh - I feel for you, man. I really do. :sick:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started a similar topic a while back that mentioned Orange County's plan for dealing with growth through development rights:

Consultants and planning staff explained that certain areas of the county -- such as those of environmental, historical or cultural significance -- would be designated as "sending areas" where landowners would be permitted to sell their development rights. Other areas of the county -- such as economic development districts, rural crossroads and land near the interstates and U.S. 70 -- would be designated as "receiving areas" that could be built at higher densities than that at which they are currently zoned.

This is alternative to UGBs, which would never fly in this state. I think development rights are interesting way to combat the landowner rights and real estate issues that Dana mentioned. Zone Falls Lake, Neuse, wetlands, and other historic areas for minimal development, and receiver areas (DT core, H Nills, etc.) for dense development. The NIMBYs are another matter altogether. <_< With Raleigh about to redesign it's comp plan and TTA it's transit system plan, I think a major shift needs to occur that moves towards densification of certain existing areas inside the city, such as North Hills, which could turn out to be a great model of infill development for the city to follow. These dense areas need to be context-sensitive (respect the neighbors) and near facilites (hwys, arterial streets, transit, etc) that can handle the dense growth. I know that there are plenty of redevelopment opps, such as old strip shopping centers (Tower, Six Forks/WF Rd, etc), all over the city.

All this will never happen without strong leadership and a clear vision, and honestly transit absolutely MUST be a part of the equation. My $.02.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started a similar topic a while back that mentioned Orange County's plan for dealing with growth through development rights:

Consultants and planning staff explained that certain areas of the county -- such as those of environmental, historical or cultural significance -- would be designated as "sending areas" where landowners would be permitted to sell their development rights. Other areas of the county -- such as economic development districts, rural crossroads and land near the interstates and U.S. 70 -- would be designated as "receiving areas" that could be built at higher densities than that at which they are currently zoned.

This is alternative to UGBs, which would never fly in this state. I think development rights are interesting way to combat the landowner rights and real estate issues that Dana mentioned.

I also think development rights might be the way to go in Raleigh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Capital is sort of bad. But in reality every major city has at least one of these super busy high retail high density corridors in Charlotte it's Independence Blvd., in Atlanta Peachtree, and even Greensboro Wendover. I sort of like it, I get that "I'm in a big city feeling when I'm on it."

And no I don't think Raleigh needs growth boundaries just a bit more focus on kinds of growth and road/infrastructure improvements to keep up with growth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Capital is sort of bad. But in reality every major city has at least one of these super busy high retail high density corridors in Charlotte it's Independence Blvd., in Atlanta Peachtree, and even Greensboro Wendover. I sort of like it, I get that "I'm in a big city feeling when I'm on it."

And no I don't think Raleigh needs growth boundaries just a bit more focus on kinds of growth and road/infrastructure improvements to keep up with growth.

Peachtree is a thriving urban corridor in Atlanta. Memorial Drive/Hwy 78 is another story. This is the future of Capital Blvd. A string of vacant big box shopping centers with each new strip center developed. Residential decline usually follows...

Wendover in Greensboro isn't really sprwaling retail but there is a extremely high concentration around the 40 intersection that is developed as a hodge podge of developments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Growth boundaries don't necessarily stop suburban growth but directs it. It determines where water/sewer lines are going to be extended. Where road capacity will be made available.

Durham has had a growth boundary for several years but there is still plenty of vacant land (beyond the current city limits) within that boundary that is being developed. Most of it is occuring in the Southpointe area and East Durham towards Brier Creek/RTP.

Raleigh could set it's northern UGB near the city limits while setting the western boundary would border the County line and Cary. The southern boundary could extend to the I-540 or could follow corridors to 540 with dense nodes around the intersections.

Durham has separated into tiers (Urban, Suburban, Rural, Compact Neighborhoods, DDO). The tiers provide for different levels of density.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great topic. There are certainly theoretical virtues to a UGB. The three big problems are:

There is a fourth problem too; worse sprawl. The artificial skyrocketing up of property values coupled with the demand to fill the more affordable price ranges forces smaller cities in the periphery to grow like they are on steroids. Longer commutes, more distant sprawl, less affordability, they are a dumb concept in practice.

UGBs do more harm than good. The real answer is sane zoning, force growth to pay for itself, and put an end to the many push factors of the central urban area that are driving people away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Around Raleigh, suburbs and exurbs already exist that would love to take any devlopment the UGB would deny -- Garner/Clayton, Zebulon/Wendell, Louisburg/Wake Forest/Wakefield/Creedmoor, and Cary/Apex/Holly Springs. To say nothing of the "exit centers" that spring up just off 540.

On the map, Garner and Cary forms a border just off the map for most of the south. These towns kept Raleigh in check to the south and west while no municipality did this to Raleigh's north. This led to the creation of North Raleigh over the last 20-30 years.

The old Crown Isuzu dealership *could* be something just inside 440, but the state govt owns a lot of land along Hodges and doesn't plan on moving. The Raleigh Flea Market mall area could be something, but Sir Walker Chevrolet and the Foxy Lady puts a dent in resdiential demographics, so nothing happens. The Miller Inn had to be evacuated and but the Crabree got all the press because it appeals to viewers with higher incomes that attract advertisers.

The nearest residents to Capital ITB north of the Wake Forest Road intersection are on the far side of Wake Forest (served by North Hills), or close to Raleigh Blvd. (lower income). South of Wake Forest, there is Mordecai/Oakwood, and east Five Points/Bickett. These areas have been underserved for years, and despite being within a mile of downtown are far removed from the nearest grocery stores, the Six Forks Kroger and Cameron Village HT. Driving has been a way of life since no one wants to serve this area since no one wants to serve the area because they can't find a parcel of land that could accoodate a parking lot of cars.

This has lead to the resdiential growth going out instead of up, and the stores following them in the only brain dead way developers know how.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a fourth problem too; worse sprawl. The artificial skyrocketing up of property values coupled with the demand to fill the more affordable price ranges forces smaller cities in the periphery to grow like they are on steroids. Longer commutes, more distant sprawl, less affordability, they are a dumb concept in practice.

UGBs do more harm than good. The real answer is sane zoning, force growth to pay for itself, and put an end to the many push factors of the central urban area that are driving people away.

I like the idea of UGBs, but I agree. The restrictions seen in Orange County have been a real boon to Alamance; the effort to combat sprawl and traffic is undercut by the 20 mile commute on NC 54 (to gove one example), which is a steady stream of Burlington-CH traffic during the rush hours (the oft-mentioned 'most people working in CH/Carrboro are unable to live in CH/Carrboro'); and Mebane's expansion on the Alamance side of the line is another testament to this. I'm all for dense, urban development, infill and a reduction in sprawl, but there are other, economic issues most of us have to live with, and any planning ignorant of that fact is wobbly at best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great discussion. The UGB idea was one that just jumped out at me one day and I decided to look into it more and explore what others were thinking. I'm away of the many factors that cause sprawl. I also realize how hard it is to change these practices, especially in a region like the triangle and a state like NC. As in most cases, the best option may be a combination of many of the methods being discussed here. My major gripe is that in general, everyone doesn't seem to agree that there is a sprawl problem. I think our government lacks a visionary for the area's growth. Our prime example is the Soliel Center (but thats said and done) and more importantly the TTA Regional Rail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently in the process of reading Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by New Urbanism pioneers Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck (very good read), and instead of an urban growth boundary that tends to get pushed further and further out with time, it advocates the establishment of a permanent Countryside Preserve which sets aside multiple parcels of conservation land independent of their relationship to the center city. Unlike urban growth boundaries, the Countryside Preserve is essentially a rural boundary which is dictated according to the terrain of a particular region. There are certain areas dictated to be permanent countryside, including waterways, wetlands, marshes, wildlife refuges, scenic areas, agricultural land, current and future parks, etc. It has also been argued that such preserves have significant ties with the urban parks system. Temporary Countryside Preserves can also be established, which would be land slated for future, high-quality development which encourages density.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


it advocates the establishment of a permanent Countryside Preserve which sets aside multiple parcels of conservation land independent of their relationship to the center city... There are certain areas dictated to be permanent countryside, including waterways, wetlands, marshes, wildlife refuges, scenic areas, agricultural land, current and future parks, etc.
This fits in with development rights. For example, if you are a land owner who has property near Umstead Park, that is in a "conservation district" limiting density to say 1 dwelling unit/3 acres, then you could sell your rights to a developer who would then be able to achieve additional density bonuses on his land in an "urban growth district" while protecting the sensitive park buffer area. It's a win-win situation and it promotes smart, transit-friendly growth, while preserving open space, historic, and culturally significant areas.

I like the idea of UGBs, but I agree. The restrictions seen in Orange County have been a real boon to Alamance

I think they only work if they are mandated statewide, such as in Oregon (that is my understanding). Development is forced inside the UGB, or out of state. I like the flexibility of development rights better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Multiple modes of transit (express bus, train, etc.) reduces the effects of sprawl also. Wake and the bordering counties would have to agree on a growth and transportation plan. I think that is what makes the TJCOG potentially so important.

Atlanta has the ARC that approves developments of regional impact such as Wakefield or Brier Creek. Of course they definitely don't have Urban Growth Boundary so the Metro continues to extend up 85 and every other Freeway in ATL. The problem is exacerbated by multiple cities/counties (since they have strict annexation laws) looking to be the next boom town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not enough attention is given to how development got to this point....it has not been pure capitalism. Growth has been subsidized at every turn by governments at all levels. If developers had to pay the full cost for new roads and environmental damage and increased sizes of water and sewer mains, the cost of locating new development farther out would start to approach that of buying more expensive land farther towards urban cores. Urban Growth Boundaries, while sounding nice, function kind of like busing to and from schools....underlying problems are ignored.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Multiple modes of transit (express bus, train, etc.) reduces the effects of sprawl also. Wake and the bordering counties would have to agree on a growth and transportation plan. I think that is what makes the TJCOG potentially so important.

Atlanta has the ARC that approves developments of regional impact such as Wakefield or Brier Creek. Of course they definitely don't have Urban Growth Boundary so the Metro continues to extend up 85 and every other Freeway in ATL. The problem is exacerbated by multiple cities/counties (since they have strict annexation laws) looking to be the next boom town.

You don't think that commuter trains going into NYC and DC actually encourage people to live far away from the city's core?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Point, When the commuter trains move as fast as they do up north its common to see people living 70+ miles away in places such as New Jersey and Suffolk County (Long Island) traveling to NY. Same can be said with people commuting to DC and Philly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not enough attention is given to how development got to this point....it has not been pure capitalism. Growth has been subsidized at every turn by governments at all levels. If developers had to pay the full cost for new roads and environmental damage and increased sizes of water and sewer mains, the cost of locating new development farther out would start to approach that of buying more expensive land farther towards urban cores. Urban Growth Boundaries, while sounding nice, function kind of like busing to and from schools....underlying problems are ignored.

It's a very good point and NC is certainly guilty of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think they only work if they are mandated statewide, such as in Oregon (that is my understanding). Development is forced inside the UGB, or out of state. I like the flexibility of development rights better.

No, they don't work there either. UGBs have not worked anywhere. What they do is making housing more unaffordable, make sprawl more distant and worse, and do not address the core causes of sprawl. The answer to sprawl isn't artificially screwing up the housing market and making sprawl worse as a result, the answer is to fix the problems in the core (crime, schools, taxes, regulation, etc.), force growth to pay for itself, and use sane zoning. The concept of UGBs on paper seem nice, in practice, they are abhorrent and make things worse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, they don't work there either. UGBs have not worked anywhere. What they do is making housing more unaffordable, make sprawl more distant and worse, and do not address the core causes of sprawl. The answer to sprawl isn't artificially screwing up the housing market and making sprawl worse as a result, the answer is to fix the problems in the core (crime, schools, taxes, regulation, etc.), force growth to pay for itself, and use sane zoning. The concept of UGBs on paper seem nice, in practice, they are abhorrent and make things worse.

It depends on the manner in which they're applied, of course. State/Federal natural areas can contribute more to an area's economy through tourism than they would ever take out due to lost development area. I definitely think we should keep adding to those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The concept of UGBs on paper seem nice, in practice, they are abhorrent and make things worse.

Maybe I don't have a good read on the situation, but one of the better exxamples always pointed to is Portland, which is consistently lavished with praise for it's transportation and land use planning efforts. I visiteed there in '99 and thought it was a great city. Sure there was sprawl, but my impression was that the region had done a good job in dealing with growth thru the UGB.

As I said, IMO UGB's in practice are probably too restrictiv and inflexible. I prefer the menu of transit, good zoning, and development rights better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't think that commuter trains going into NYC and DC actually encourage people to live far away from the city's core?

I would rather have those people on a train than riding I-40 from Burlington/Mebane or Clayton and further out to RTP. I would rather see multiple cores that are progressively smaller as you go further out.

Main Core - RTP; Primary Cores - Raleigh, Durham; Secondary Cores - Chapel Hill, Cary, Knightdale, Wake Forest, etc.; Ancillary Cores - Clayton, Burlington, Zebulon, Sanford, Roxboro, Henderson, etc.

Transit could also provide for a reverse commute for inner-city residents to manufacturing jobs in the more affordable rural areas. The goal would be to prevent development from spreading along every intersection of a highway but linked along a commuter rail with park-and-ride lots. I think everyone agrees that the demand for large lot, cul-de-sac subdivisions will subside with aging of the baby-boomers who are buying more condos and townhomes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.