Lincoln Chafee Advances Bill to Usurp Local Control of Land Use Planning and Zoning, by Tom Randall

BACKGROUND: S.975, euphemistically titled the “Community Character Act,” was introduced last May and is now scheduled to come before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Thursday, April 11, 2002. The bill, introduced by Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), with Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT), Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Max Cleland (D-GA), and Joe Lieberman (D-CT), is based on the belief that local communities are incapable of developing acceptable land use plans or zoning. It proposes providing grants to state and tribal governments to develop plans in cooperation with the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, Agriculture as well as “the heads of other Federal agencies” and “nonprofit organizations that promote land use planning”

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: This bill represents nothing more than bribe money for use by far-left environmentalists to advance their political agenda.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The notion that Americans shouldn’t be allowed to determine the character of their own communities, without the interference of Washington bureaucrats, is absurd. This bill would further erode the traditional American notion of private property and promote the so-called “smart growth” programs so popular with the far left-wing’s “environmental” supporters. Americans should be free to determine the type and amount of growth appropriate for their communities.

DISCUSSION: The terms “smart growth” and “sustainable development,” which are the stated goals of the bill, are, in reality, buzzwords used by environmental extremists to promote no-growth and no-development programs.

These programs dramatically limit access to the American Dream of homeownership, particularly for minorities, by limiting housing supplies and driving up prices. A new study, to be released in May 2002 by the National Center for Public Policy Research, will show the potential damaging effects of “sustainable development” policies on minorities in over 100 metropolitan areas around the country.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: See National Policy Analysis #402 by David Almasi: “Giving With One Hand, Taking Away with the Other: Competing Government Policies Both Promote and Deny Homeownership” at:

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