In 2008, the US Environmental Protection Agency identified the redevelopment of the Silver Spring central business district in Montgomery County, Maryland, as successfully modeling the principles of smart growth. An important component of the project involved the use of an innovative Green Tape program that streamlined the permitting process. This article reports on a survey of stakeholders associated with this project, which was undertaken to gain insight into the challenges of smart growth. The main issues identified by stakeholders revolved around the public's role in decisions associated with the treatment of landmark structures and the creation of public space. Stakeholders also suggested that a tension existed between regional plans to increase density and the desire of some residents (such as those in areas surrounding the Silver Spring central business district) to maintain the lower-density character of their neighborhoods. In general, this a case example of the tensions that can emerge as efforts to ensure efficient and predictable decision making, which developers and planners value, clash with efforts to facilitate community participation in decision making, which is essential if projects are to be responsive to a broad range of stakeholders.
Environmental Practice 15:156–168 (2013)