Goshen Learns Environmental Planning
The MIT Journal of Planning, Vol. 3, pp. 4-29, 2002
14 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2009 Last revised: 17 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2002
In many respects, the environmental justice movement holds a mirror to the field of planning. A growing body of evidence suggests that land use controls and statutory frameworks can contribute to the overburdening of low-income and minority districts with the hazards of industrial pollution. At the same time, the distributional effects of planning practice are seldom countered with attempts to adequately enforce industrial performance standards, set up emergency response capabilities, protect residents from the effects of pollution, or include residents in decision-making. This paper documents the efforts of Goshen, North Carolina, an agricultural community that has survived from Reconstruction to the present, to determine the impacts of a wastewater treatment facility on their community. Residents considered the status of heir property, sensitive landmarks, the permitting process, proposed facility design, and the social geography of Goshen through a series of efforts de-linked from the machinations of the environmental planning process, which progressed in some respects under the assumption that the community did not exist. The manner in which environmental impact assessment, pollution control, and land suitability analysis failed to protect this historically significant community suggests several shortcomings of the planning systems that are assumed to protect human health and the environment. New tasks for planners interested in understanding, learning from, and preventing the distributional effects of planning practice are suggested.
Keywords: environmental impact, permitting process, NEPA, environmental justice, Goshen, North Carolina
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