Evaluating Strategies to Protect Open Space and Slow Sprawl in the Philadelphia Region

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This paper uses the Philadelphia metropolitan region of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties as a case study, examining historical land use and socioeconomic data to demonstrate the negative effects that urban sprawl has on regional quality of life and the natural and built environment. The paper shows that open space conservation initiatives sponsored by governing bodies and land conservation groups may not be able to keep pace with the rate of sprawl or be able to meet the conservation benchmarks set by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the GreenSpace Alliance, a regional non profit land conservation group. The paper examines the urban redevelopment and revitalization initiative as an underutilized, but effective tool available to slow sprawl, and the need to combine these initiatives with land protection measures. Evidence is presented that counters claims that sprawl is a natural result of the free market economy that should be allowed to correct itself without intervention. Finally, existing growth management strategies are offered that might be incorporated into future efforts to slow the expansion of the built environment and improve quality of life in the region.

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Presented to the Faculties of the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Environmental Studies 2007.
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