P2Rx Topic Hubs - Guides to Community-Reviewed Resources on the Web
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LUTRAQ Reports
A listing of eleven on-line, technical reports documenting its creation of a plan for community grow...
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Sample Codes and Ordinances
Model codes and ordinances other communities have used to implement sustainable development.
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Smart Growth Policy Database
This database highlights numerous policies and programs that states and localities nationwide have i...
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The Energy Yardstick: Using PLACE3S to Create Sust...
PLACES3S is an urban planning method designed to help communities discern an effective path toward s...
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P2 and Sustainable Community Development: P2 Options

Pollution Prevention and Community Growth


No matter who initiates a community process to address rapid growth, it must begin with an effort to build a common, accurate understanding of the problem. This step requires thorough consideration of what defines the community and its various members, which interests are critical to the effort's success, and how they might be engaged. Once communication among diverse community members is established, they can begin to discuss their perceptions of the problem. At this early stage, it may be necessary to sort through the facts and beliefs underlying various perceptions, ultimately developing a shared understanding of the community's situation (Growth Management Toolkit).

Most solutions to sprawl and related pollution problems fall into three categories:

The roots of sprawl and inefficient growth in large cities lie largely in decisions dating back to when they were small towns.
Protecting Open Spaces

Resource land protection mechanisms include:

  • land purchases
  • differential taxation programs
  • conservation easements
  • transfer and purchase of development rights
  • right-to-farm laws
  • exclusive use zoning
  • critical area protection programs
  • minimum setback zones (for construction near wells)
  • riparian buffers
  • high density urban development

Actions taken:

  • President Bush is taking up the call to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which directs money from off-shore drilling revenues to the nation's parklands
  • Park City, Utah, approved a $10 million land preservation bond with 77% support, to allow the local government to raise sales taxes for green space protection and developer incentives.
  • Former Vice-President Gore developed a livability agenda while in office, part of which proposed $9.5 million in bond authority for investments by state and local governments for preserving green space, creating or restoring urban parks, protecting water quality, and cleaning up brownfields.
  • Ventura, California, passed legislation forbidding the county to rezone land for development without vote approval (http://www.thetribunenews.com/stories0500/36267.htm).

Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled

The numerous approaches to limiting the amount of time and money invested in driving fall into two camps:

  • increasing the supply of alternatives
  • decreasing the demand or the need to drive.

Actions taken:

  • A new light-rail line in Littleton and Englewood, Colorado, has led to an increase in property values and in development of a new pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use City Center
  • The 50-year land use and transportation plan adopted by Portland Metro incorporates "transit-oriented" community design policies

Urban Revitalization

Revitalizing urban areas is a complex undertaking, successful tools include:

  • incentives to reinvest in existing communities and already-developed areas
  • encouraged infill developmemt
  • brownfield redevelopment
  • reuse of historic buildings
  • housing policies that encourage mixed-income housing and down-town investments
  • zoning that encourages mixed uses
  • infrastructure subsidies where growth is desired

Actions taken:

  • Maryland's Neighborhood Conservationand Smart Growth initiative of 1997 provides fiscal and programmatic support for the concentration of growth in locally designated Priority Funding Areas and for the preservation of rural lands.
  • The Denver Regional Council of Governments, representing 49 communities, developed an interim Urban Growth Boundary map for 700 square miles.
  • Boulder City Council, Colorado, approved a measure where residential developers must assign 20% of their projects to low-income buyers and renters.
Location Choices

The collective decisions of residents, government and businesses about where and how to build have a tremendous impact on the character of communities.

Actions taken:

  • Lawsuit filed against the Small Business Administration for lending programs that allegedly contribute to urban sprawl
  • The 1996 Executive Order 13006 directing federal agencies to give first consideration to locating facilities in downtown districts instead of suburbs
  • The location efficient mortgage (LEM) piloted in the Seattle market as a program designed to make owning a home more affordable for those who live and work in Seattle.

Increasing Efficiency

Promoting smart infrastructure can curb sprawl. Options sensitive to the costs associated with infratructure include:

  • Impact fees on developers to help defray infrastructure costs
  • Incentives for developers who incorporate managed growth into their plans and projects
  • Pooling resources among communities, perhaps building one large sewage treatment plant for both
  • Supporting brownfields legislation that encourages the reuse of existing development and infrastructure
  • Establishing guidelines for the water use and chemical applications on new golf courses
  • Promoting green buildings
  • Encouraging government buildings to utilize recycled components, solar energy, water-efficient fixtures, etc.
  • Clustered development or high density urban level development

Actions taken:

  • Coloradans for Responsible Growth developed a ballot proposal where large cities and counties would designate growth areas, but only where local governments can realistically extend roads, water, and sewer services within the next ten years.
  • The Twin Cities have a tax base sharing scheme where 40% of the increase in commercial and industrial property tax revenues since 1971 is pooled and then distributed.
  • The city of Austin, Texas, established a desired development zone; outside the zone, fees for water and sewage would be up to 50% higher
Many model industrial and residential communities are demonstrating the feasibility of tackling multiple sustainable growth and P2 issues at once. Highlighting numerous efficient design features in one community--such as energy-efficient lighting, water-efficient plumbing, services within walking distance, and xeriscaping (landscaping with plants requiring minimal water)--not only conserves resources, but provides an invaluable educational and awareness tool.

The Community Growth Topic Hub was developed by:
Peaks to Prairies
Contact Laura Estes at Peaks with questions or comments:
406-994-3451 or laurae@montana.edu