A game plan to change development patterns in Gwinnett County, Georgia

Downtown Suwanee in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Photo by Smart Growth America.

Located just outside Atlanta’s Perimeter beltway, Gwinnett County stands at the crossroads of change. Long known as a low-density bedroom suburb, Gwinnett today is a diverse county of more than 800,000 people with and rapidly increasing jobs base.

But Gwinnett County is quickly bumping up against the limits of suburban development. Older retail and jobs centers are changing rapidly and some are in decline. As is the case everywhere in metropolitan Atlanta, traffic congestion is overwhelming. The County and its business leaders have sponsored several transit plans for the I-85 corridor in recent years, but the defeat of the recent transportation initiative has made it unlikely that rail transit will extend to Gwinnett County anytime soon. In a few cases – the City of Suwanee in particular – new development has taken on a different pattern. But most of the county is still stuck in the problems of suburbia.

Technical assistance

It’s not too late to apply for a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America

Are you interested in Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance workshops but haven’t had time to apply? Don’t worry – it’s not too late! Applications are being accepted until October 25, 2012 at 5:00 PM EDT.

Smart Growth America’s technical assistance program helps to facilitate local solutions to development issues and concerns. Participating communities are able to grow in ways that benefit families and businesses while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place.

Technical assistance

Free technical assistance webinar materials now online

Smart Growth America recently hosted an informational webinar about this year’s round of free technical assistance workshops. Potential applicants will find in this webinar a summary of the application process, including important deadlines, eligibility requirements and where to direct further inquiries. First, Roger Millar, the Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, provides an explanation of … Continued

Technical assistance

Smart Growth America now accepting applications for 2012 free technical assistance workshops

A 2011 technical assistance workshop in Maine.

Smart Growth America is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for our 2012-2013 round of free technical assistance workshops. Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance program helps to facilitate local solutions to local issues and concerns, so that participating communities are able to grow in ways that benefit families and businesses while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place.

Technical assistance

Tacoma, WA guides economic revitalization with LEED-ND


A rendering of the long-term vision community planners have for 25th and Pacific Ave (Dome/Brewery District). Photo from the Brewery District Development Concept Study.

The City of Tacoma currently has its sights on two major smart growth initiatives that will aide in the economic revitalization of two inner city neighborhoods: the Dome/Brewery District and the Martin Luther King Jr. neighborhood.

Due to the recession and budget constraints, however, the city currently lacks the tools needed to effectively set goals and benchmark, evaluate and recognize progress for the projects. Tacoma is therefore looking to leverage existing efforts and resources to successfully revitalize these two neighborhoods. In this vein, Tacoma applied for and received a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America funded by EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The two day workshop focused on using LEED-ND to accelerate the development of sustainable communities.

Technical assistance

Pittsburgh shoots for sustainability amid an economic comeback

Pittsburgh, PA skyline. Photo taken by Flickr user wallyg.

In the 20th century, as the result of its booming steel industry, Pittsburgh was thriving as one of the largest cities in the country. But, during the 1970s and 80s, Pittsburgh lost a lot of the success that it once held, due to the collapse of that same industry. The population was cut in half and there was a long period of economic stagnation.

Today, though, Pittsburgh’s economy is on the mend. If there was a golden lining to that period of economic stagnation, it was that the city avoided excess sprawl and financially insolvent development patterns.

Community officials want to use to their advantage as they prime for a new era of prosperity in Pittsburgh. City leaders and residents are gradually reshaping the way Pittsburgh thinks about planning and design, with the goal of transforming the city into a model of sustainable development.

Technical assistance

Helping Pima County, Arizona, audit its land use codes

A detail from Pima County’s Cultural Resources map. Image from the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

Pima County, Arizona, has made a concerted effort in recent years to improve how it uses land and maintains its infrastructure.

The County already is already working to improve the area’s zoning codes, and the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, which works to balance development with preserving open space, has been touted as “one of the best and most comprehensive habitat conservation plans in the country.”

Technical assistance

Learn about applying for free technical assistance from Smart Growth America

Interested in applying for Smart Growth America’s free technical assistance, but not sure where to start? If so, join Smart Growth America and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Sustainable Communities for an informational webinar on Friday, September 21, 2012 from 1:00-2:30 PM EDT.

The webinar will provide a comprehensive look at the free technical assistance available to communities, including the programs, processes, and application timelines that each grant recipient offers.

Also included on the webinar will be technical assistance from three other nonprofits – Forterra, Project for Public Spaces, and Global Green. All four organizations are gearing up for the second of five free annual technical assistance awards, made possible by the EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.

Technical assistance

Evaluating land use codes and transportation performance in Oklahoma City

A view of downtown Oklahoma City. By Flickr user Travel Aficionado.

Oklahoma City was designed around driving, but community members and city officials want to create a street network that allows for a variety of transportation options.

City officials have been actively pursing new policies that will allow the city to grow in a more efficient and sustainable manner, but they needed help with the technical details that would allow them to tie their new plans to their local setting. Officials asked Smart Growth America to help.

Technical assistance

Smart Growth America and TDOT: Mapping out Tennessee's transportation future

Photo courtesy of Flickr user jimmywayne.

On August 21, Smart Growth America and the Tennessee Department of Transportation released Removing Barriers to Smarter Transportation Investments, a detailed policy analysis of Tennessee’s transportation infrastructure and projects.

Tennessee’s leaders are already looking to the document for guidance. “We now have a road map to a better transportation program that will promote job growth, stronger communities and a cleaner environment while using tax dollars more wisely,” Trip Pollard and Anne Davis, both of the Southern Environmental Law Center, wrote in an op-ed in The Tennesseean.

Technical assistance