Retail giants and other agents of urban sprawl have devastated small town character and have helped produce a new wave of interest in participatory planning. Using a compelling and dramatic local case-study, the book analyzes the politics of land-use planning at the end of the twentieth century and provides a timely practical and theoretical vehicle through which scholars, community activists and policymakers alike can understand the actual terrain and terms of contestation. In examining the step-by-step process of environmental impact assessment in a local context, the authors realistically assess as well the obstacles to meaningful participatory democracy within structures established by the logic of the present liberal capitalist order.
"Megamall on the Hudson details the drama of environmental and land-use politics in a case study that pitted commercial 'big box' developers against community activists and environmentalists. The authors weave together legal and political analysis, theory and practice, from an insider's perspective that illuminates the interplay of community organizing and development pressures, state environmental policies and legal tactics, media coverage and electoral politics, persistance and personality too. Students of environmental planning, land-use development, and democratic politics more generally will find the book richly rewarding for years to come." John Forester, Professor of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University and author of The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Processes and Planning in the Face of Power
"This is a Gothic tale of political intrigue: of whisperings, picket lines, and small town Machiavellians. Here the good old boy's network meets the dueling experts, the suited hucksters, and the world's largest retail corporation. There are two things you should never watch being made: sausage and legislation. Now add one more: land use decisions. Beneath the veneer of public process are the capricious circumstances of impenetrable, quirky judgments." Al Norman, editor of the Sprawl-Busters Alert newsletter and web site and author of Slam-Dunking Wal-Mart! How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl in Your Home Town
David Porter studied political science, sociology and economics at Columbia University where he received his Ph.D. He has taught at colleges in Brooklyn, Montreal, and Maryland and for two decades at Empire State College of the State University of New York. Over four decades, he has investigated and written on a variety of grassroots contexts of community participatory empowerment, historically and in the present, in the U.S. and abroad.
Chester L. Mirsky received his J.D. at New York Law School and is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law. He has researched and written extensively about historical socio-legal contexts of the U.S. criminal justice system, focusing on the role of courtroom actors and the impact they have on the form of law and the method by which law is understood and employed on a day-to-day basis. He is co-author of a forthcoming book on the transformation of criminal justice in the nineteenth century.
Both authors have actively participated in grassroots social justice movements from the 1960s to the present. They also have worked for over two decades closely monitoring, critiquing, and sometimes struggling against land-use decisions made by local officials in various towns in the upstate Hudson Valley of New York state.