Smart Growth

Finding realistic and equitable legal solutions to a wide range of important growth management issues—especially those that affect agriculture, green space, water resources and energy—is easier thanks to a new partnership between UFʼs Extension Service and the Levin College of Law.

The Extension Service is now working closely with the Conservation Clinic, housed in the law collegeʼs Center for Governmental Responsibility, to promote smart growth and sustainability solutions throughout the state.

Dean Robert Jerry said smart growth and sustainability are key issues in Florida, and have long been a focus of the collegeʼs Environmental and Land Use Law Program as well as a number of units in UFʼs Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

“An interdisciplinary approach is vital to successfully managing these areas, and this partnership with the Extension Service will greatly amplify available intellectual and physical resources,” Jerry said. “Conservation Clinic projects also leverage taxpayer dollars by utilizing the time and talents of law students under faculty guidance. The students benefit, too, by gaining hands-on, real world experience.”

“With Floridaʼs population expected to double in 50 years, growth management will continue to be one of the most urgent, difficult and potentially contentious issues facing the state,” said Larry Arrington, dean for extension.

The Conservation Clinic provides environmental and land use law services to Florida communities and non-government organizations and university programs such as the Extension Service and Florida Sea Grant College Program, said Tom Ankersen, director of the clinic. Among other projects, the clinic has consulted with local government on ordinances and comprehensive plan policies, state statutes and conservation easements.

“Demand for clinic legal services has been growing, and much of this has come through requests generated by our expanding relationship with UFʼs Extension Service, which has offices in every county,” Ankersen said.

In the next 50 years, more than 11 million new homes—along with millions of square feet of commercial space and thousands of miles of new roadways—will be needed to accommodate the influx of residents, according to Pierce Jones, director of the Extension Serviceʼs Program for Resource Efficient Communities.

“To achieve the kind of resource efficient growth we need, our community planning efforts require cross disciplinary collaboration with building professionals, local governments, water management districts and other agencies,” Jones said. The Program for Resource Efficient Communities works with these and other collaborators to promote the adoption of best design, construction and management practices in new residential community developments that measurably reduce energy and water consumption and environmental degradation, he said.

—Chuck Woods