Sprawl and Politics

The Inside Story of Smart Growth in Maryland

By John W. Frece
Foreword by Gerrit-Jan Knaap

Subjects: Urban Studies
Series: SUNY series in Urban Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791474129, 204 pages, January 2009
Hardcover : 9780791474112, 204 pages, July 2008

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Dr. Gerrit-Jan Knaap
1. Room 217
2. Brownfields, Chapman’s Landing, and the Chestertown Wal-Mart
3. “Tell Them, ‘The Governor Is Very Serious. ’”
4. The Initiative Begins to Take Shape
5. The Inside/Outside Strategy
6. “The Most Important Thing in the Whole Administration”
7. Opposition Solidifies
8. The General Assembly Battle
9. Momentum, Implementation, and Resistance
10. Second Term Freedom
11. Clicking on All Cylinders
12. A Conservative’s Opportunity
13. Political Lessons from the Maryland
Milestones in Maryland Planning

An account of the origin, enactment, and implementation of Maryland’s Smart Growth land use program begun in 1966.


Sprawl and Politics is a political history of the origin, enactment, and implementation of Maryland's well-known Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation initiative. It is an insider's look at the political pressures and decisions made by Parris N. Glendening, the former governor of Maryland, and his top staff as they worked to enact and implement a new program to manage growth and curtail sprawl. The book traces the evolution of the Smart Growth program from its substantive underpinnings to the political and public relations strategies needed to assure the program's adoption.

Known around the country almost immediately after it was enacted, the program's incentive-based approach served as a model for other states struggling with growth pressures but reluctant to regulate land use. With a perspective only a participant could provide, John W. Frece examines the incidents, issues, pressures, and personalities responsible for shaping the program as well as the challenges faced putting the ideas into practice.

At the University of Maryland, John W. Frece is Associate Director of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education. He is the coeditor (with Gerrit-Jan Knaap, Huibert A. Haccou, and Kelly J. Clifton) of Incentives, Regulations, and Plans: The Role of States and Nation-states in Smart Growth Planning.


"…Sprawl and Politics is the first thorough examination of the political history of the smart growth program in Maryland, and it is an important book for anyone interested in understanding the politics behind urban growth management … It is a short, concise, and interesting read, offering a unique inside glimpse into the politics around managing growth in Maryland. " — Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy

"This topic is terribly significant. The conversation about how America ought to grow, and the reasoned responses that Governor Glendening fashioned, are nationally significant. " — Keith Schneider, Director of Program Development, Michigan Land Use Institute

"This book is written in a smooth, engaging style and should appeal to planning and environmental activists who need to know the challenges of making Smart Growth happen. " — Carl Abbott, author of Greater Portland: Urban Life and Landscape in the Pacific Northwest