This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Exploring 'Place' in Planning and Zoning Debates Across a Rural-Urban Gradient




Gartin, Meredith

Type of Degree





Land use policy and zoning are examined here as socio-political forms of landscape creation. This study examined the human-place perspective of rural residents experiencing demographic and physical changes due to the influx of new populations and residential growth. The study is based in the southern region of Harris County, a rural county growing at a rate of 33 percent, largely as a result of urban sprawl extending out from Columbus, Georgia. Data collection included 24 semi-structured interviews and observations from planning hearings. The face-to-face interviews, conducted during the fall of 2005 established historical and cultural values relating their sense of place and identity, while the observations of the planning hearings, between the years 2001 to 2006 reveal that rural residents understand growth to be inevitable and the process of identity formation through landscape change is best articulated in the zoning decisions at the planning hearings. The planning hearings and zoning ordinances provide vital insight into understanding the cultural and political practices associated with local ecology.