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Planning practice 👔 Implementation of "Best Practices" into a suburban small town setting. Can it work? Which practices work best?


In listing to planning podcasts, reading planning books, and reading planning magazines, they are full of great ideas that really promote best practices for planning. But for many years I have wondered how applicable some of these "best practices" are when it comes to suburban small towns. Over half of the United States lives in an area that they would classify as suburban. Many of us who work in this environment face different challenges than both rural and urban counterparts. We are not the county seat, and we don't have public transportation. We have a couple of freeway exits but we also have lower densities. We don't own our utility systems and our main street is also a state highway.

We don't attract the same designation location as tourists towns because we are in the shadow of the City. More so, boutique retail and nice restaurants are fearful of opening here because the City is not that far of a drive. That is where the cultural focus is. Sure we are growing faster than almost anyone else in the region (ie 13% population growth rate last fiscal year). But all of that is residential growth.

I have a list of things that I want to try and fortunately, I think I can get political backing on quite a few of the items. But I am curious to hear what others have been able to obtain in terms of best practices within first or second ring suburban communities adjacent to mid size to major urban cities.


I have worked in smaller towns now for about 16 years. I am focused on incremental changes to the environment that improve lives. Like infill sidewalk and getting some bike lanes. Like you, one leaves out the transit component. But I have thought about how ride share and now delivery services impact things. We do have Door-Dash.
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