By Tim Schilling
Would anyone like to live next to a sewage plant? No, probably not, which is why we have the technique of zoning. Zoning allows us to map out our cities and towns. It is why many people don’t live near a sewage plant, or why many residential areas are separated from businesses; because we want our space between the smell of a sewage plant and the traffic of people in businesses.
Zoning is a good idea, but when it goes too far, it can hurt more than it helps. Exclusionary zoning is what happens when a zoning plan gets too expensive, making the land or buildings too expensive for many people. Many times they are minorities, as shown in the conflict in Mount Laruel, New Jersey. Segregation occurred between the people wanting to move in the area for a new beginning and the people that already live there. The fear of crime, disease, pollution, increased traffic and low resell value of properties and houses are a few reasons why many residents of Mount Laurel didn’t want this zoning plan to move forward. However, this wasn’t the case here or anywhere else similar events like this have happened.
“Housing is the foundation for opportunity,” says David Fink, policy director of Partnership for Strong Communities. When the houses were built in Mount Laruel and low income residents began to move in, none of the fears of the current residents ever came to be a reality. Schools were improved, as well as an increased number of jobs for its citizens. It was a win-win for “both sides,” whatever that means. Mount Laurel, and all cases similar to it, give the underdogs a chance at new opportunities, and in this case it all started with the building of an affordable house.