Following are summaries of a few of the many campaigns we've helped citizens to win. Our involvement ranged from providing free advice to managing the entire campaign. Our hundreds of other campaign successes touch on every impact, strategy option and other topic addressed in our book How To Win Land Development Issues. To see where we've helped visit the: CEDS map.
Everyone has heard the phrase Smart Growth. But you may not know that Smart Growth was a result of the CEDS Politically Oriented Advocacy in action. In the mid-1990s, the Sierra Club, with CEDS assistance, led a fight to save Chapman’s Forest - 2,000 acres of highly-sensitive forest near Washington, D.C. Chapman’s Forest became a focal point - a poster child - for the many ills of dumb growth. The campaign generated so much public support that it allowed former Maryland Governor Glendening to preserve all 2,000 acres and he instituted Smart Growth as state policy and law. Of course, Smart Growth is now a cornerstone of responsible growth management nationally. And it all started because of the highly-successful execution of Politically Oriented Advocacy at Chapman’s Forest.Southfork Court is a quiet, dead-end street with 14 townhomes. The Court is more then a place where residents park their cars. Children play in the Court. An annual picnic and other gatherings are held on the Court. But all this would’ve changed with plans to extend the Court into a through-road to serve a proposed development project. This action would have increased traffic on the Court by 800%. County policy required a second means of emergency vehicle access into the proposed development. An extension of Southfork Court was the only way of meeting this requirement. CEDS research of past decisions revealed an equitable solution. After extensive negotiations with the applicant and County officials, they agreed to extend the Court and place a gate across it which only emergency personnel could open. This solution provided the second means of emergency access without any increase in normal traffic volume, thus preserving the tranquility of Southfork Court. For further detail see: Preventing Cul-De-Sac Streets from Becoming Through Roads. Rural residents were deeply troubled by a proposal to build new houses within view of their homes. They feared the loss of a natural view, light trespass from street lamps, and glare from the floodlights new homeowners tend to plaster all over their houses. After our clients threatened to get the site downzoned (a real possibility) the applicant agreed to forego the street lights, place a covenant in the homeowners association bylaws restricting outside lighting, and to provide the additional landscaping needed to preserve the view. These points were set forth in a written agreement which the applicant and the rural residents signed. The agreement also required making it a binding condition of County development approvals. This makes government responsible for enforcement - not the rural residents. The applicant also reimbursed the rural residents for the $2,000 they paid CEDS to win this victory. A massive shopping center was proposed for a site at the head of a highly sensitive river. Area citizens treasured the river but were not necessarily opposed to the shopping center. However, they were very concerned about the thousands of gallons of contaminated runoff which would flow from the shopping center into the river. CEDS helped local activists demonstrate widespread community support for preserving the river and organized a legal team which convinced the applicant they were in for a long fight. The applicant then offered to put in some additional runoff pollution controls, costing about $100,000. We eventually got them to agree to what was really needed - $500,000 in aquatic resource protection measures. Wade’s Savanna is one of seven Central Coastal Plain Basin Swamps in the world. A mining company had proposed excavating a 70-foot deep pit covering 140-acres next to Wade’s Savanna. The resulting extraction of sand and gravel would have dewatered (and killed) Wade’s Savanna. After partial execution of a strategy developed by CEDS the applicant became convinced that they stood little chance of getting mining permits. They then sold the site below market value to a preservation organization. For further detail see: Protecting Wades Savanna, Nearby Residents & the Marshyhope Scout Camp from Mining Impacts. Butler residents learned that a developer wished to funnel traffic from a large housing project onto a narrow, twisting road which wound through their valley. To create the new intersection the developer needed to remove a hump in the road which caused an unsafe sight-distance condition. CEDS research uncovered the fact that one of the Butler residents owned the portion of the road where the hump was located. Thus the developer would need the resident's permission to proceed. Permission was, of course, denied and the applicant found another way to access their site, but from a much safer road. Hollywood Elementary was reputed to be among the best primary schools in the county. A large residential project was proposed for the area, which would have caused severe overcrowding at Hollywood Elementary. Parents of students attending Hollywood Elementary brought in CEDS. We learned that at the time the County assessed school impacts by totaling the enrollment and capacity at all 16 of its elementary schools. If capacity exceeded enrollment countywide then schools were deemed adequate. Of course this approach allowed some schools to become severely overcrowded while others had vacant classroom space. CEDS brought in a nationally recognized school facilities planner who showed that the County's outmoded approach would result in a decline in the quality of education at Hollywood Elementary. The County subsequently changed its policy to require an assessment of capacity school-by-school. The Vineyard Conservation Society was troubled by a golf course proposed for a cove on Martha's Vineyard. The Society retained CEDS to evaluate the impact to the Cove. We found that fertilizer and pesticide losses would be sufficiently high to threaten the highly sensitive cove. Testimony by CEDS and others, along with great organizing by the Society, prompted the Martha's Vineyard Commission to deny approval for the golf course. For further detail see: Effects of Meeting House Golf Club upon Edgartown Great Pond. Aquasco residents learned that a 150-acre landfill was proposed for their area. They were deeply concerned about increased truck traffic, noise, odors, air and water pollution, property value loss and impacts to a historic African-American church. CEDS documented that all these impacts would occur. The evidence presented in support of each impact prompted the local decision-making body to deny a special exception for the landfill. For further detail see: Status of Potential Issues & Strategy Options Brownville Rubble Landfill. The Saint Peters Home Owners Association was concerned about a large mining operation proposed for a site adjoining their community. Their specific concerns included well impacts, increased truck traffic, noise, dust, and pollution of a highly regarded wetland adjoining the site. With assistance from CEDS the Association won a decision from the County Board of Appeals that cut the proposed mining operation in half, thus greatly reducing the potential impact upon nearby residents and the environment. Residents of the Heatherwood and Willow Springs communities learned that an adjoining 40-acre site was proposed for development at twice the anticipated density. The community's concerns included well contamination and the loss of a strip of woodland which would have provided a visual buffer. CEDS helped community residents file two appeals of project approvals. We then helped residents to understand the technical aspects of the issues sufficiently so that they could redesign lot layout in a way that resolved well impacts and greatly reduced visual impacts. The applicant, who had refused to negotiate before the appeals were filed, agreed to much of the community's redesign of the project. The owner of an existing marina on the Bohemia River sought to expand the number of boats and piers. Other Bohemia River waterfront property owners were deeply concerned about the impact of increased boating activity on shore erosion, fish, grass and shellfish beds. A thorough analysis by CEDS determined that the applicant's plans showed waters to be much deeper than they actually were. In fact, the waters were so shallow that the state permitting agency denied approval for the expansion. CEDS was retained by the Hawaii Office of State Planning to assist the Kaneohe Bay Task Force and Hawaii's Thousand Friends in evaluating the potential impact of three proposed golf courses. All three courses were located in the watershed of Kaneohe Bay. Our report proposed a number of steps for minimizing the impact of the courses upon the highly sensitive ecosystem of the Bay. Unfortunately the developers of the three courses did not follow the recommendations and proceeded with the projects despite significant, unresolved social and environmental concerns. All three courses were rejected by the Honolulu City-County Council. Cheltenham residents learned that a dump for construction and building demolition waste was proposed for their community. If approved, this would be the second such facility built in their area. CEDS brought in various experts to analyze project impacts, one of which was a real estate appraiser. The appraiser found that adding a second dump would greatly increase the loss of value for homes located up to a mile from the dumps. This finding was key to convincing local decision-makers and the appellate court to deny approval for the second dump. Chestnut Hill Cove is a community of 350 (going on 400) townhomes. Few recreation and open space areas exist within the community. In hopes of creating additional open space residents of the community brought in CEDS to evaluate a three-acre parcel located in the middle of Chestnut Hill Cove. The residents were concerned that the parcel might be developed into a variety of less than desirable uses. So they asked CEDS to find out just what type of development might occur on the tract and, more importantly, what sort of recreation/open space uses might be created. We found that while development potential was severely restricted, the three-acre tract could be used to offset a considerable portion of the community's open space deficit. Specifically, CEDS determined that Chestnut Hill Cove had only 18% of the open space and recreation facilities deemed adequate for a community of 400 townhomes. Creating amenities such as a nature trail on the three-acre parcel could go a long way towards reducing the deficit in Chestnut Hill Cove. Ridge residents heard that a proposal was afoot to extend public sewers to thousands of acres of surrounding farmland. The primary purpose of the sewer was to correct a relatively small number of failing septic systems. Had the massive sewer extension proceeded, many farms would have been exposed to intense development pressure. The pollution resulting from the subsequent, intense development would have been many times that caused by the failing septic systems. CEDS assisted Ridge residents in making these points. The project was modified to extend sewers just to the few homes with failing septics. Through this win-win success the existing failures were corrected while literally thousands of acres of farm and forestland were preserved. Georgia property owners were troubled by logging occurring on their lands. They had purchased the land knowing that logging would occur, but with the understanding that buffers would be maintained along creeks, wetlands and other sensitive areas. An analysis by CEDS showed that buffers were ignored and many large cypress trees had been removed. The public scrutiny following release of these findings resulted in greater compliance with buffer protection measures. Residents of King County, Washington had watched the waters of Beaver Lake become increasing fouled with algae as area development increased. An analysis by CEDS documented that development was the cause and that the lake was near a critical threshold. If development increased further then the lake could reach a point where severe problems with odor, fish kills and loss of property value would occur. This finding prompted County officials to require a full environmental impact statement for a proposed development project. Herald Harbor residents were alarmed by a flurry of approvals to develop lots which were supposedly too small to build on. An analysis by CEDS showed that developers had found a loophole in environmental protection laws which allowed variances to be granted. Testimony by CEDS allowed Herald Harbor residents to win a denial of the variances for several of the more hazardous lots. This was the first time citizens succeeded in plugging the loophole.