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Growth management, in the United States, is a set of techniques used by the government to ensure that as the population grows that there are services available to meet their demands. These are not necessarily only government services. Other demands such as the protection of natural spaces, sufficient and affordable housing, delivery of utilities, preservation of buildings and places of historical value, and sufficient places for the conduct of business are also considered.
One technique is the imposition of impact fees. Impact fees are imposed to charge the owners of newly developed properties for the "impact" the new development will have on the community. Fees can be used for such things as transportation improvements, new parks, and expansion of schools. Impact fees are not used to maintain existing facilities, but instead, are used to create new facilities in proportion to the number of new developments in the area.
Another technique is the application of zoning to reduce the cost of service delivery. Zoning can be used to reduce the area affected by urbanization, allowing the same number of people to live and work in a smaller area, allowing governmental services to be delivered more efficiently. For example, fire protection and emergency medical response services are less expensive to provide in compact areas than in areas where the population is more spread out. This results in lower expenditures for the same level of service, which saves taxpayer dollars. The efficiencies gained can also result in benefits to the private sector. For example, grocery stores and pizza delivery businesses can serve only a limited area. If more customers are located within their service delivery area, the cost of delivering their services is decreased.
Preventing suburban densities from affecting a large area also has the effect of providing open spaces so that people who wish to live in a rural setting can do so without urbanization threatening their lifestyle.
The application of growth management techniques is often governed by the development of a comprehensive plan. The plan can be used to measure the impact that new growth will have on the community and define the method by which that impact is mitigated.