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  Concepts related to Innovative Communities

Smart Growth Communities


Smart growth is development that serves the economy, the community, and the environment. It changes the terms of the development debate away from the traditional growth/no growth question to "how and where should new development be accommodated." Smart growth planning and design approach use a range of policies and programs to support continuing growth but in a way that is sustainable and of high quality.

In communities throughout the world, there is a growing concern that current development patterns-- dominated by what some call "sprawl"--are no longer in the long-term interest of our cities, existing suburbs, small towns, rural communities, or wilderness areas. Though supportive of growth, communities are questioning the economic costs of abandoning infrastructure in the city, only to rebuild it further out. They are questioning the social costs of the mismatch between new employment locations in the suburbs and the available work-force in the city. They are questioning the wisdom of abandoning "brownfields" in older communities, eating up the open space and prime agricultural lands at the suburban fringe, and polluting the air of an entire region by driving farther to get places. Spurring the smart growth movement are demographic shifts, a strong environmental ethic, increased fiscal concerns, and more nuanced views of growth. The result is both a new demand and a new opportunity for smart growth.

Smart growth recognizes connections between development and quality of life. It leverages new growth to improve the community. The features that distinguish smart growth in a community vary from place to place. In general, smart growth invests time, attention, and resources in restoring community and vitality to center cities and older suburbs. New smart growth is more town-centered, is transit and pedestrian oriented, and has a greater mix of housing, commercial and retail uses. It also preserves open space and many other environmental amenities. But there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution. Successful communities do tend to have one thing in common--a vision of where they want to go and of what things they value in their community--and their plans for development reflect these values.

Smart Growth Principles

  1. Mix Land Uses
  2. Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
  3. Create a Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
  4. Create Walkable Neighborhoods
  5. Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
  6. Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty, and Critical Environmental Areas
  7. Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
  8. Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
  9. Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair, and Cost Effective
  10. Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration in Development Decisions

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