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Thread: Should/does your state code address 'smart growth' principles?

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    Cyburbian
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    Should/does your state code address 'smart growth' principles?

    Hello, all. I have a vague impression that some states have attempted to legislate quality growth principles with varying results. I am looking for your opinions about this. Is it a good idea? Where and how has it failed or succeeded? How, ideally, do you think state code should encourage good land use planning? Thank you.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    You can look at Wisconsin's 1999 Smart Growth Legislation, requiring plans and identifying the elements they should include. Zoning and other land use decisions then need to be consistent with the plan.
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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    The jury is still out on Florida, which has some of the toughest state planning mandates in the country. It is all up to the local governments whether to abide by them since enforcement is pretty lax.

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I generally think instituting such policies from the state level is the only way to impact real control of growth. Otherwise, each local municipality decides what they want to do independently and the result is leapfrog development, poor regional planning coordination and many unanticipated "externalities." I think Oregon's requirement for Urban Growth Boundaries is a good example of what can be achieved when the state is behind growth control legislation (recent legislation undermining URBs not withstanding).

    Still, I think it is very important that "smart growth" policies be implemented in a reflexive manner. There is no "one size fits all" solution to the variety of local challenges municipalities face with regards to responsible growth and development and one should be very careful that the enforcement of statewide laws does not result in unwanted consequences. URBs, for example, must incorporate boundaries that will accommodate a projected 20 years of growth and are amended every five years to reassess current population growth projections. So, being able to constantly reassess and modify policies will be extremely important for state-wide implementation.

    Some people are very bothered by the infringement this may put on the right for anyone to parcel and sell their land for profit (ie maximizing profit making potential of their property), though I personally don't see it as altogether different from the concept of zoning in the first place (which historically has also been criticized for the same reasons).

    It is interesting to note that many of the places we have come to think of as "great places" were established under very specific laws about how towns should be laid out. The Laws of the Indies in the New World (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_the_Indies), a host of laws about building in Middel Eastern and North African cities and even European Medeival towns all imposed specific rules from on high. In many cases, the results have stood the test of time.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    My state, Utah, has mandatory comprehensive plan elements and its Quality Growth Act, but I am on the lookout for more specific legislation. The point about there being no "one size fits all" makes sense, though. I will look at the states mentioned. Thank you, all.

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    Cyburbian plnrgrl's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    The jury is still out on Florida, which has some of the toughest state planning mandates in the country. It is all up to the local governments whether to abide by them since enforcement is pretty lax.
    I would have to disagree. The Department of Community Affairs reviews any comprehensive plan amendment over 10 acres, and any amendment more than 10 units to the acre in density, and has in recent years been a stickler on concurrency issues.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by plnrgrl View post
    I would have to disagree. The Department of Community Affairs reviews any comprehensive plan amendment over 10 acres, and any amendment more than 10 units to the acre in density, and has in recent years been a stickler on concurrency issues.
    I agree with hilldweller. I've been a planner in FL for over 20 years and DCA negotiates out of virtually anything they have issues with. I have never had even the most egregious case NOT eventually signed off by DCA.

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    $$$

    Quote Originally posted by maximov View post
    Hello, all. I have a vague impression that some states have attempted to legislate quality growth principles with varying results. I am looking for your opinions about this. Is it a good idea? Where and how has it failed or succeeded? How, ideally, do you think state code should encourage good land use planning? Thank you.
    Money talks and BS walks- unless the state really offers financial incentives and/or penalties, statewide planning will be ignored. Mass. has tried to add some minor incentives lately but they are not strong enough.

    It will also be very important to make sure that the state planning "gurus" are really all that. If the review of local plans is done by underpaid bureaucrats, there will be no real impact.

    The most promising idea for regional planning I have seen is the revenue-sharing model from Minneapolis/St. Paul. Financial issues do drive most planning decisions, and as long as property taxes pay the way, there will be more bad planning and more putting of LULU's on the edge of town...

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by plnrgrl View post
    I would have to disagree. The Department of Community Affairs reviews any comprehensive plan amendment over 10 acres, and any amendment more than 10 units to the acre in density, and has in recent years been a stickler on concurrency issues.
    DCA caved last week on the city of Parker's comp plan amendment.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  10. #10
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    You can look at Wisconsin's 1999 Smart Growth Legislation, requiring plans and identifying the elements they should include. Zoning and other land use decisions then need to be consistent with the plan.
    What Cardinal said. In my opinion, Wisconsin is an awsome place to work as a Planner. And they are paying half the costs for the comp plan we are working on now.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    I believe that Michigan law basically says that if a local ordinance doesn't allow a cluster development, but a developer wants to do a cluster development, then the local community must allow the cluster development. There isn't any incentive to do so, unless the local ordinance allows it.
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