Monday, March 19, 2007
It used to be the case that the standard assumption about rural land use planning was that unsophisticated governments were typically within the control of powerful business interests. But times are a-changing all across the nation, even in the rural South. It's been nearly 20 years since Robert Bullard wrote in "Dumping in Dixie" about the excessive amount of environmentally risky land uses in the rural South, especially in African American communities.
In South Carolina, counties are successively changing their zoning and planning laws to try to stop the creation of new waste landfills, even as the state environmental authority grants permits. Lawsuits have followed. An optimistic way to look at these legal battles is as local communities standing up to being "dumped" on. A less savory way to view them is as more communities realizing the potential ability to push unwanted land uses to other, less-organized counties, or perhaps even to other states.