Smart Growth Conference Kicks Off In Biloxi

The concept of communities growing and developing in harmony with their natural surroundings wasn't exactly a new idea when Glade Woods started holding Smart Growth Conferences eight years ago as Director of the Department of Marine Resources.

"There's room for both," says Woods. "There's room for development and there's room for our environment that we have here. We've just got to be intelligent about it."

Now the Code Director for the MSU Northern Gulf Institute, Woods returns to 8th Annual Coastal Development Strategies Smart Growth Conference with growing crowds of planners and policy makers.

"The first conference we may have had 75 or 80 people," says Woods.

But the goal remains the same for current DMR Executive Director William Walker.

"It's just the smart thing to do, no pun intended," says Walker. "It makes sense to utilize the infrastructure that we have to the extent we can before we go spending a lot of money and effort to build a new infrastructure. We need to bring back the sense of community in our towns and cities, and we're headed in that direction."

Experts say Hurricane Katrina left behind a clean slate with nearly endless Smart Growth possibilities.

"We can build complete neighborhoods that are walkable and mixed use, economically and environmentally sustainable," says Planning and Urban Design Consultant Ann Daigle. "Smart Growth is about rebuilding true neighborhoods."

That's something planners say is an old fashioned concept that's catching on across the country and especially on the nearly blank, but still beautiful canvas of South Mississippi.