Smart growth news – November 21

Gwinnett Among 15 Communities Chosen Nationwide to Receive ‘Smart Growth’ Assistance From the Experts
Curbed Atlanta, November 18, 2011
With the help of forward-thinking officials like Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson (who as Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable, was instrumental in getting the TPLOST project list approved), Gwinnett County has quietly become a leader in the sustainability movement in Georgia by pushing its communities toward smarter growth. The county has now been chosen to receive free smart growth technical assistance from Smart Growth America, one of the country’s premier think tanks on community-building and sustainability issues.

Derry Township selected for free tech assistance
Lebanon Daily News (Pa.), November 18, 2011
Derry Township is among more than a dozen communities that have been selected to receive Smart Growth America‘s 2011 free smart-growth technical assistance.

East El Paso sprawl: Boom strains services, city coffers
El Paso Times, November 20, 2011
Sprawl on El Paso’s East Side is putting a strain on city services, such as fire and police protection, water and sewage utilities, roads and recreational areas, a growing number of urban planners said.

Cities struggle with unfinished projects and expansions
Minnesota Public Radio, November 21, 2011
Claremont decided in 2006 to work with a developer to build a 15-home subdivision on the city’s north end, near a cluster of trailer homes. The hope was that Claremont, which sits between Owatonna and Rochester on Highway 14, would serve as a bedroom community for couples whose work was split between the two cities. A planned highway improvement sounded encouraging as well. Five years later, in a transformed economic climate, the development isn’t much to look at. The one home that was built, a split-level with tan siding, stands empty at one end of a cul-de-sac. The street is lined with real estate signs and untapped utility boxes jutting from the grass like tomb stones.

KC Council OKs incentives for high-tech firm to move downtown
Kansas City Star (Kan.), November 17, 2011
Company executives said they wanted a downtown location to help attract younger and tech-savvy employees to their firm. DSI is believed to be the first significant suburban firm to move downtown since billions of dollars in improvements were made over the past decade to help revive the area.

Bigger cities, fewer towns – Kansas in the next 150 years
Wichita Eagle (Kan.), November 20, 2011
Kansas in the next 150 years will rely less on agriculture as the backbone fueling its economy and more on the ingenuity and resilience of its urban residents to thrive.

Ex-Maryland governor to speak at economic development forum
Reading Eagle (Md.), November 21, 2011
Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership [Institute] and former governor of Maryland, will speak Tuesday at an economic development forum held by the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Local stories

In Milton, new city faces age-old tension over land use
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 21, 2011
Milton, the North Fulton city founded to preserve an idyllic setting of horse farms and rolling spreads, has joined a long list of metro Atlanta communities that struggle to balance a low-density lifestyle against the need to build the tax base.

Plan to untangle avenue has Charlestown divided
Boston Globe, November 21, 2011
Charlestown’s Rutherford Avenue is a city street masquerading as a highway, a mid-20th-century relic scarred with chain-link fence, orange barrels, and Jersey barriers. Swelling to 10 lanes, split by a median, and nearly free of traffic lights, it invites speeds well over 50 miles per hour. Pedestrians and bicyclists approach at their peril. On this much, nearly all agree: Rutherford is ugly, crumbling, and must be rebuilt. But the decision on how much it should resemble its old self is roiling the community. Three years into the planning, the debate is as pitched as ever.

Another Look At Revitalization
Post-Journal (N.Y.), November 21, 2011
City Planning Commission member Jeff Nelson likens an ambitious new plan unveiled at his meeting table to “rebuilding the heart of the city.”

Transportation projects to be judged on benefits vs. costs
San Jose Mercury, November 21, 2011
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is looking at factors often ignored when assessing whether it is financially worthwhile to pay millions to widen highways and expand trains. Road fatalities and injuries, emissions reductions, the cost of owning and operating a car and even the health effects of physical inactivity are being considered in the Project Performance Assessment study now under way.

Opinion and Editorial

Local view: Biking, walking good for health, economy
Duluth News Tribune (Minn.), November 20, 2011
Earlier this month, Duluth voters approved a $2.6 million tax increase to support city parks and recreation programs, including an ambitious biking and walking trail plan. Federal support will be needed to complete the plan.

Support cost-effective approach to growth
Poughkeepsie Journal (N.Y.), November 19, 2011
At a recent meeting of Hudson River Valley Greenway, state Sen. Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, and Dutchess County Executive Bill Steinhaus were honored for their roles in this program, which has brought in $1.7 million for sustainable planning in the county. Steinhaus spoke about the importance of smart planning for sound economic growth and touted Greenway’s “centers and greenspaces” approach to growth in Dutchess County.

Forget taxes and regulations, Michigan must build it so they’ll come
Detroit Free Press, November 20, 2011
“It’s the place, stupid!” That’s a headline from a recent book compiled by the Michigan Municipal League that attempts, in a series of essays, to recast the debate over Michigan’s future from one about taxes and regulation to one about how we build the kinds of places where people want to live, where people feel safe and happy, where people can exercise their ideas and find the “human capital” to turn them into something tangible. If we do that, the evidence is clear from places that already have, people will come.