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Thread: Case Studies??

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Case Studies??

    I am working on a plan review process for a small town (pop. 3800). My planning committee has asked me to find some well-planned communities which could be used as models.

    Any Suggestions?

    A bit of information about the town:

    There are a lot of older buildings in the downtown although many are in hard shape and some are vacant.

    In the residential areas there are many great Victorian era homes some of which have been converted to apratments (some of them are nice others well...)

    The Town has water frontage on a river/lake.

    The Town is near a major highway and there is struggle between development 'downtown' and highway linked development.

    The town is a service centre for the surrounding municipality, about 14,000 people.

    In a recent survey, residents liked the small town atmosphere but felt that the town could tidied up.

    The entrances to the town are uninviting and are tending towards ribbon development.
    Last edited by jmf; 19 Feb 2003 at 2:07 PM.

  2. #2

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    "Well-planned" is a big order! But I can give you a list of some US communities that are at least somewhat similar.

    The town you are describing sounds very like Polson, Montana, although I would guess that you may have a nicer housing stock to begin with and Polson's service area is not as populous. I prepared a master plan and a new development code for Polson several years ago and have not kept track of implementation, although given the nature of the community, I doubt they have been more than so successful. You could try talking to the Lake County, MT planning department for a current status report. IF you want a copy of the old Polson plan -- they should have updated by now -- I can probably find one around here somewhere.

    Another lakeshore community of roughly comparable size is Sandpoint, Idaho. It is a strange little community, a combination of ex-hippies and neo-nazi militia and regular folk I haven't passed through for years, but it is definitely similar to the town you are describing and there has been some interesting private sector revitalization work (a mall built on an old bridge). Cascade and McCall are other small Idaho lakeshore communities, but not as similar to what you describe.

    I don't know as much about it, but at least on the surface, Chelan, Washington would also be similar. Since it is in a state with mandatory growth management planning, you might find it to be an interesting case to look at. The same applies to Florence, Oregon. Florence is a rather reluctant participant in Oregon's statewide planning program, but they have done a lot with downtown, which is on the estuary, and their strip development is better regulated than most due to state requirements.

    I also suggest talking to Keith Charters at the New Designs for Growth Program in Traverse City, Michigan. His organization has done a lot of work with lakeshore communities, some of which are in the right size range.

    One more. I only passed through once, in a hurry, but the lakeshore town of Naples, Maine is a place that looks like someone has done some reasonable planning.

    Maybe this will help.

  3. #3

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    Originally posted by Lee Nellis
    Another lakeshore community of roughly comparable size is Sandpoint, Idaho. It is a strange little community, a combination of ex-hippies and neo-nazi militia and regular folk I haven't passed through for years, but it is definitely similar to the town you are describing and there has been some interesting private sector revitalization work (a mall built on an old bridge). Cascade and McCall are other small Idaho lakeshore communities, but not as similar to what you describe.
    I'm not sure any of those Idaho communities would be good examples for you to follow. Certainly not Cascade.

    A lot of communities in New Hampshire sound like what you are describing. The NH Office of State Planning has compiled a lot of local regulations online: http://www.state.nh.us/osp/

    Tim - any specific suggestions?

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Originally posted by Bullwinkle


    I'm not sure any of those Idaho communities would be good examples for you to follow. Certainly not Cascade.

    A lot of communities in New Hampshire sound like what you are describing. The NH Office of State Planning has compiled a lot of local regulations online: http://www.state.nh.us/osp/

    Tim - any specific suggestions?
    None that jump out at me off the top of my head. None that contain all of the things jmf is looking at anyway.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Hey, I don't need all just some. I have been looking at a great variety of places but a lot the "good" places seem to stress Main Street programs and economic development rather than zoning.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Could you explain what a plan review process is? That may help a little... I'm not sure if you are reviewing a community's master development plan or are you are trying to establish a process for that community to review development plans... or something entirely different.

    There are several city and county codes at www.mrsc.org (Municipal Research for WA Cities)...

    Once you are there, as for similar cities, you may want to try:

    Port Townsend (nice downtown, older Victorian homes, waterfront on Puget sound, 9,000 population, some strip development coming into town)
    Chelan (nice small town on a lake, I think 3500 population, not too much strip development)
    Anacortes (small town, waterfront on Puget Sound, nice downtown, mix of old and new housing... )

    I'll try to think of more communities after you reply back.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    Originally posted by nerudite
    Could you explain what a plan review process is? That may help a little... I'm not sure if you are reviewing a community's master development plan or are you are trying to establish a process for that community to review development plans... or something entirely different.
    In Nova Scotia, 'planning documents' are made up of three parts:

    The Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) sets out the goals and intentions for development in the area/Town through establishing Land Use Designations and for each designation sets out zones and types of permitted uses within those zones. It also includes criteria for rezonings and development agreements. The MPS always has a Generalized Future Land Use Map.

    The Land Use By-law (LUB) sets out specific zone requirements, lot sizes, setbacks, permitted uses and other development standards (ie parking, landscaping...) etc.

    The Subdivision By-law establishes the criteria to be met to create a new lot, add to existing lots or consolidated lots.

    Most MPSs require that the whole thing be reviewed every 5 or so years (This doesn't usually happen since sometimes it takes 2-3 years to do the review). This means public meetings, background reports and all that good stuff. As you would expect, sometimes there are huge changes to the documents other times it is more housekeeping changes.

    Sometimes the review focuses on particular areas and only does housekeeping hanges on the rest. This sort of the case with the Town. Council/ Planning Advisory Committee is very concerned about downtown and the entrances to the Town. They can easily define things they don't want but finding out what they do want is more difficult.

    So around here if a planner is working on a 'plan review', this is what they are doing. I am working on plan reviews for two municpal units right now. The first is for the town. The second is for the municipality which right now has 4 sets of planning doucments (except only on subdivision by-law) which we/they want to combine into one more simple document.

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