"In the most general sense, "smart growth" is defined as a growth management policy that addresses sprawl by directing land development away from metropolitan areas that experience accelerated growth and reinvesting valuable resources to depressed urban and suburban neighborhoods. Smart growth policies have three defining characteristics: (1) they generally encourage compact designs and high-density development, (2) they typically place strict limitations on building projects in sprawling communities, and (3) they usually involve comprehensive approaches to land use planning decisions."
"As of 2006, nearly 20 states have implemented smart growth-oriented directives, and many local and regional entities have also incorporated smart growth practices into their comprehensive master plans. As more states continue to grapple with ways to tackle urban sprawl, many of them have begun to experiment with various policy tools, such as urban growth boundaries, limitations on exclusionary zoning, and impact fees."
Thanks to Jon Cecil, AICP