Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



World War II aggravated one of our most troublesome municipal problems--the growth of urban fringe areas around the outskirts of towns and cities. Many municipalities are finding their natural development either frustrated or completely strangled by choker necklaces of satellite settlements. Parent cities are surrounded by slum areas which they cannot control and wealthy suburban sections which they cannot tax. For it is common that the poorest and the most prosperous tend to live in the outskirts--the former to avoid the sanitation and anti-nuisance standards of urban life, the latter to escape their share of the cost of government in the mother city where they earn their livelihood. In short, for all practical purposes of everyday life, the fringe is a part of the mother city's social and economic existence, yet it is beyond her regulatory and taxing jurisdiction. Thus the suburbanites are able to enjoy the benefits of urban life and to avoid many of its burdens. Conversely, city dwellers bear the major cost of municipal facilities which the outsiders enjoy and are also compelled to pay county taxes--often a major share of them --that inure primarily for the benefit of fringe dwellers. Only if the whole metropolitan region can be treated as the socio-economic unit, which in fact it is, can fringe slums be controlled and tax burdens equalized...

The final stage in the fringe cycle comes with the sudden realization by the community as a whole that it has a fringe problem. But by then it is usually one that can no longer be solved short of the most heroic measures. Bureau of the Census figures tell the whole bleak story in direct and simple terms.