Iowa Smart Planning Taskforce issues final report

by Gary Taylor

The Iowa Smart Planning Taskforce submitted its final report to Governor Culver and the General Assembly on November 15, meeting the deadline set forth in SF 2389.  The Taskforce was charged with investigating and making recommendations related to the following subjects:

  • Integrating the Iowa Smart Planning Principles into appropriate state policies and programs.
  • Determining an effective and efficient coordination and information sharing system to support local and regional planning.
  • Suggesting appropriate technical and financial incentives to support local and regional planning.
  • Developing a framework for regional planning.

One-sentence summaries of the Taskforce recommendations follows; however, readers are urged to review the full Final Report of the Smart Planning Taskforce (accessible here) to fully understand each recommendation, and how they work together to propose a framework for state, regional and local comprehensive planning in Iowa. 

1. State Level Coordination
1.1: Establish the Office of Planning and Geographic Information Systems (OPGIS) and OPGIS Coordinating Council.
1.2: Develop an accessible statewide GIS and data system.
1.3: Integrate the Smart Planning Principles into the State’s Enterprise Strategic Planning Process.
1.4: Provide training and technical assistance to state agencies to facilitate integration of Smart Planning Principles into state investment decision-making processes.
1.5: Identify State of Iowa Smart Planning Goals and Benchmarks as measurable goals and benchmarks for the state.

2. Regional Planning Framework
2.1: Identify Councils of Governments as the organizations responsible for comprehensive regional smart planning throughout Iowa.
2.2: Comprehensive regional smart plans should be completed within five years after legislation is enacted.
2.3: Create a sustainable funding source for regional smart planning.
2.4: Councils of Governments should establish a Plan Review Committee in each region for local smart plan review.
2.5: A regional entity or entities should be established or identified in Central Iowa for the purposes of regional planning, implementation, and local smart plan review.

3. Financial Incentives & Technical Assistance
3.1: Create a sustainable funding source for a smart planning grant program at the state level for local smart plan development and implementation.
3.2: Expand the menu of financing options available for local governments to develop and implement smart plans.
3.3: State agencies should give additional consideration for having a qualified smart plan to receive state funding for infrastructure and public facilities projects that affect land use, transportation, stormwater management, and floodplain protection.
3.4: Create a smart planning education program and toolbox for local government staff, officials, and the public.

4. Watershed Planning & Implementation
4.1: Enhance watershed planning, coordination, and implementation by creating goals and strategies referencing land use for each of Iowa’s six major river basins and three major river regions.

5. State Code Consistency
5.1: Make the definition of “local comprehensive plan” uniform through the Iowa Code.

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