Regional Study

Sub-Regional Study
- Urban Sprawl
- Management
- Simulations
- Bibliography
- LandSim 1.0


Sub-Regional Study

Sub-Regional Case Study: Containing Urban Sprawl in Portage County, Ohio

During the last 50 years cities in the United States have been developing through a sequence of successive phases of growth from urbanization, suburbanization, counterurbanization, to reurbanization (Geyer 1996). During this process, the expansion of urban settlements into rural areas often takes the form of low-density development, predominately single-family residential subdivisions and strip commercial developments. The result of this development process is commonly called "urban sprawl." In this form, urbanization spreads outward in a haphazard pattern, consuming more land than is necessary and creating excessive public costs for community facilities and services.


The spatial expansion of urbanized areas has been argued to be the most significant morphological characteristics of metropolitan development in the United States (Tribble and Bohland 1973). The sprawl of urbanized areas has served as the focal issue for numerous geographic, economic, sociological, and political analyses. Consequently, there exists a large literature body regarding the form and process of urban sprawl. One example is, see the bibliography compiled by Audirac and Zifou (1989).

In practice, the prevention and control of urban sprawl has probably been one of the most frequent justifications for planners, public administrators, politicians, and environmental activists to intervene in land markets and regulate land uses. Master planning and zoning are often instituted by local governments to prevent the existence of incompatible land uses, but they have also been used increasingly to alter the pattern of development. However, their effectiveness requires long term monitoring and the results often vary greatly among communities (Barnett 1995).

In this and the associated web pages, we describe our approach to using a geographic information system (GIS) as a spatial decision support system to simulate future residential development patterns in Portage County, Ohio. The simulations were based on assumptions regarding projected population growth and the implementation of different growth management tools and policies, and to measure the impacts of that development on selected natural resources. GIS allows the integration of geographic databases and provides spatial analytic functions for allocating projected population growth to land available for development. Using a computer program carefully designed to simulate the form and process of development, alternative growth scenarios are produced so citizens and local officials can better understand and conceptualize the various implications of a variety of growth policy alternatives.

Please refer to the Bibliography page for citation information.