Reconciling conflicts between environmental protection and social equity :
What are the social implications of environmental land-use regulations?
Economic inclusion, environmental protection, or both? Whether planning for hazard mitigation, wind energy, or open space, local decisions often raise questions of equity and social integration.
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Since the end of the 20th century, for example, legislators in Boulder, Colorado have actively endorsed growth management in an effort to protect and preserve natural areas and open space. In 2015, the Boulder County Planning Commission was confronted with a difficult question when a housing authority proposed an affordable housing complex in a newly incorporated area. The proposed development would effectively undermine Boulder's quasi-urban growth boundary. City planners were therefore left to make a tough decision, to either uphold open space conservation or allow housing to be built at greater densities beyond a predefined area.
As environmental preservation becomes a priority in places like Boulder, CO; Paradise, CA; Grand Haven, MI; and Mason , MI, local officials will have to be equipped to answer questions that will pit conservation against social equity and inclusion. While it will be difficult and require planners to rely on non-traditional resolutions, the results of these decisions will stimulate a much-needed discourse, reflecting on (environmental) land-use regulations and how they have been used to exclude and inconvenience the most outcasted members of our society.