Where does Mitt Romney stand on smart growth?

To date, Romney the Republican presidential candidate hasn’t commented much on his history using smart growth strategies, or whether he would encourage their use if voted into office.

During his tenure as the governor of Massachusetts, however, he passed several policies that encouraged strategic development and supported the creation of great neighborhoods. For instance, Romney signed legislation known as Chapter 40R, a policy that encouraged multi-family housing and transit-oriented development.

“We are working harder, but more importantly, we are working smarter to achieve a better quality of life in Massachusetts for all of our citizens,” Romney said at a smart growth innovation awards announcement in 2005. “I am delighted to recognize cities and towns that are leading the way in spurring important smart growth projects throughout the state.”


Partnership in the News: Las Cruces, NM city and county officials host Regional Sustainability Summit

On Saturday, August 18, city officials from Las Cruces and county officials from Doña Ana County met together to inform the public and gather feedback on the region’s plans for the future. The meeting was meant to give “people in the community a chance to learn what this very big planning effort is all about,” County Commissioner Billy Garrett explained. “It gave people the opportunity to talk to the planners, make suggestions and, overall, to get the public involved. I think the turnout was great.”


Partnership in the News: Minnesota's Resilient Region Project plan revealed

On Tuesday, August 14, the commission revealed its Resilient Region Project to much fanfare. Said Bob McLean, chair of the Resilient Region Advisory Board,

“Our mission is to create a community-driven, university-assisted partnership around planning sustainable regions that will integrate the disciplines of housing, transportation, natural environment — land use — and economic development with viable strategies through highly involved civic engagement.”


Planning wisdom, economic prudence: An interview with Mitchell J. Silver

Planning Wisdom, Economic Prudence
By Phillip LaFargue, Center for Planning Excellence, Baton Rouge

Mitchell J. Silver, AICP, is the Chief Planning and Economic Development Officer for the Department of City Planning in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also the current President of the American Planning Association. Since he will be one of the headlining speakers at Center for Planning Excellence’s 2012 Smart Growth Summit, we decided to ask him a few questions relating his experience to issues we face in Louisiana. What we got was sound advice on planning and economic development that would be applicable anywhere in the world.

Click here to read the interview.


Don’t call it a comeback: the rebirth of downtown Roanoke, VA

Located along the Roanoke River in a valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, Roanoke, VA in many ways embodies the idyllic beauty of southern Virginia.

Now, new investments and redevelopment of former brownfields are part of a robust revitalization effort in downtown Roanoke. Roanoke is changing and people are noticing.

“Ten years ago, 11 people lived in downtown Roanoke,” says City Manager Chris Morrill. “Now 1,200 do. Even two and a half years ago, people were talking about what Roanoke wasn’t, what it could have been if it had something else. Now people are taking pride in their communities, getting out more, making connections to downtown, going out to the farmer’s markets, and they love the greenways. There’s a definite sense of optimism, that we’re going in the right direction and creating the type of place where people want to live.”


Coding for a Better Neighborhood

Successful plans for growth are informed by the vision of community members. Now, an innovative web-based effort is helping that vision go mobile.

As the people most knowledgeable about and invested in their neighborhoods, local community members are key participants in any new planning effort. Residents of a town or neighborhood often understand the area in ways planners don’t, and by getting involved in new planning efforts residents can help make sure new development plans are in line with the community’s goals.

PlaceMatters is working to make this public engagement more effective and equitable, and they’re harnessing the power of web developers and public data to make it happen. The organization will host Colorado Code for Communities this coming weekend, July 27-29, in Denver, Colorado. The event will gather web programmers to collaborate and create digital apps full of civic information. The apps are intended to address specific questions or local concerns, using state and federal data to power their information.

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The difficult business of building on old gas stations

Across the country abandoned gas stations represent one of the trickiest problems facing small towns and big cities alike. In particular, old gas stations pose a threat to the land when their underground storage tanks begin to deteriorate, potentially leaking petroleum into the groundwater.

A recent New York Times article covered the ways in which the hamlet of High Falls, NY has sought to address the negative community impact of its abandoned gas stations. Investors have begun to clean up and redevelop these lots, and their efforts have turned unattractive, contaminated brownfields into office space, restaurants and small shops. These innovative projects are creating new ways to bring money into the local economy and are helping revitalize the community.