growth management

The desirability of western gateway and natural amenity regions (GNARs) as places to visit and live is driving intense development pressures for housing, lodging, and services in many GNAR communities. Population growth and construction in many of these places have outpaced the national average for the past 50 years. New development often encroaches on farmland, open space, and wildlife habitat and migration corridors, threatening resident quality of life, visitor experiences, and the ecosystems that make many GNAR communities special.

While private property rights limit what local governments and institutions can do to manage growth (and are often a source of political tension when trying to direct development), land-use planning is a powerful tool cities, towns, and counties can employ to limit the negative impacts of development. This page provides resources, tools, and case studies that may be helpful to GNAR communities interested in using land use planning approaches to steer and support “good” growth and development.

Resources & Tools

Community Builders: A Brief History of Your Neighborhood

Community Builders has completed over 34 technical assistance projects, each one of them focusing on a specific priority (housing, land use, transportation, and economy). While their projects may be focused, they believe a livable community exists at the intersection of all of these priorities, and therefore, our plans often include recommendations about all four of them. Click the link below to access their tools and insights page, which links to their blog


EPA: Smart Growth in Small Towns and Rural Communities

growth management

The US EPA described the specific ways that Smart Growth can happen in rural communities. The agency has created several resources to help small towns and rural communities assess and improve their growth management policies. Resources include guides for applying Smart Growth principles to small communities, self assessment tools, and webinars, among others.

Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design: Resource Database

growth management

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design manages a list of resources searchable by issue area, resource type, project scale, and more. The database includes resources designed by local groups and international organizations. In addition to resources related to growth management, users can search for topics such as transportation and design issues.

Smart Growth America: Rural Development Resources

smart growth

Smart Growth America has created a variety of resources aimed at assisting rural communities. These include resources related to street design, facilities placement, affordable housing, and fiscal impact analysis. Click below to see access their resources archive

Lincoln Institute: “Arrested Developments” Policy Report


A zombie subdivision is a platted or partially constructed subdivision that remains unfinished. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy created this policy focus report to provide information and tools to help cities and counties address problems associated with zombie developments. A PDF of this report can be downloaded for free from the above link.

Research & Case Studies

Park City Vision Review & Case Study - Download Here

The Park City case study examines Park City’s vision for growth and related land use policies. The findings are based on a review of the general plan, city ordinances, and an interview with the Community Development Director.

Bear Lake Valley Scenario Planning Case Study - Download Here

The Bear Lake case study is an analysis of a scenario planning project focused on land use planning that occurred in 2010-2011 in the Bear Lake Valley of Idaho/Utah.