Smart growth news – August 1

NY law allows land banks to address blight
Associated Press via Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2011
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a new law allowing for creation of municipal land banks, which take control of problem properties and then redevelop or dispose of them.

In search for talent, companies relocating to downtown Chicago
Chicago Tribune, July 31, 2011
As the office-space market slowly recovers, downtown Chicago is benefiting from a trend long in the making: companies relocating from the suburbs.

With no room to grow, Winchester has a plan to revitalize its core
Boston Globe, July 31, 2011
Winchester’s quaint town center, with its independent shops and boutiques, is known as the heart of the community, but a closer look reveals it is not beating as strongly as it could. With roughly 95 percent of Winchester’s tax base reliant on residential property and no open space for new development, town officials have turned their attention to the underutilized town center.

Louisville’s ‘brain gain’: Reversing a trend, number of better-educated young adults is on the rise
Courier-Journal (Ky.), July 29, 2011
Lynn Bosscher knew little about Louisville besides the Kentucky Derby when she moved here last year from Grand Rapids, Mich. Now some of her regular haunts are Cherokee Park and El Mundo — the cozy Frankfort Avenue restaurant where she takes guests from out of town.

In Norwell, plans are underway to make the downtown more inviting
Boston Globe, July 31, 2011
The town center holds all the elements of a quaint village: an expansive green with a dignified war memorial and stone bench, a general store with an ice-cream counter, even an old-fashioned outdoor clock inscribed with the date of Norwell’s establishment in 1888. Yet it is not a space that lends itself to a quiet stroll.

Downtown core growing as revitalization takes hold
Dayton Business Journal, July 29, 2011
When several Springfield businesses were forced to move to make way for a new hospital, only Julie Garrigan decided to stay downtown.


How state zoning rules foster sprawl, hike costs
The Record (N.J.), July 31, 2011
On A regular basis we hear how sprawl development continues to eat up the last remaining open spaces across New Jersey, and residents continue to express confusion about how this keeps happening. One look at local zoning ordinances, though, and it becomes obvious that municipalities are getting exactly what they are asking for – a steady procession of large-lot subdivisions that gobble up land, increase infrastructure costs and push housing out of the reach of more and more people.

Growth policies should protect county’s farmland
Merced Sun-Star (Calif.), July 30, 2011
The farm bureau has been advocating for infill of abandoned homes and lots, higher residential densities per acre as the California Blueprint recommends, avoiding development of prime agriculture land and ensuring a recharge effort on our ever dwindling groundwater supply. We have consistently requested that the county work with industries and agriculture to dig the county out of the recession that we are experiencing.

The value of public transit
South Ben Tribune, July 29, 2011
Even those who’ve never ridden a Transpo bus should appreciate the value of public transportation to the community. For those who don’t, a recent phone call from a city resident who rides a Transpo bus to work every day made it clear in the simplest of terms.

Area streets need to be more conducive to walking, biking
The Poughkeepsie Journal (N.Y), July 28, 2011
Dutchess County has far too many of what some right-minded planners would call “incomplete streets” — that is, those designed with only cars in mind. Think of all the missed opportunities over the decades to create roads that have generous and safe walking and biking lanes next to them to help people get around. When you consider obesity rates in this country, it’s hard to argue against doing more to promote as much walking and biking as possible to help people live healthier lives.

Saving money on mass transit funding has become very expensive
The Baltimore Sun, July 29, 2011
My daughter’s kindergarten is 90-minute trip by bus and on foot but 15 minutes by car. My partner couldn’t get to her work at an office park in White Marsh without a car at all, unless she wants to a take a two-mile hike from the nearest bus stop after a two-hour bus trip. And I am talking each way, of course.