by Gary Taylor
As we look ahead to the possible implications of Iowa’s new Smart Planning legislation, we thought it might be helpful to take a scan of the country and review the activities in other states that have adopted their own versions of smart planning legislation. Each state’s program is unique. These reviews are not intended to predict how Smart Planning will take shape in Iowa.
Connecticut was an early adopter of smart growth laws designed to organize state and local government activities around a set of core principles. The following information comes from the Connecticut State Office of Policy and Management (OPM).
The Office of Responsible Growth, housed in OPM is required by state law to prepare a State Plan of Conservation and Development (C&D plan) on a recurring five-year cycle. The C&D plan serves as a statement of the development, resource management and public investment policies for the State. The Plan is used as a framework for evaluating plans and proposals submitted to OPM for review through mandated review processes.
Specific requirements set forth in Section 16a-31 of the Connecticut General Statutes include the following:
1. State agencies are directed to consider the C&D plan when they prepare agency plans. In addition, agency prepared plans, when required by state or federal law, are to be submitted to the OPM for a review of conformity with the C&D plan.
2. State agencies are required to be consistent with the C&D plan when undertaking the following actions:
a) The acquisition of real property when the acquisition costs are in excess of two hundred thousand dollars;
b) The development or improvement of real property when the development costs are in excess of two hundred thousand dollars;
c) The acquisition of public transportation equipment or facilities when the acquisition costs are in excess of two hundred thousand dollars; and
d) The authorization of any state grant for an amount in excess of two hundred thousand dollars for the acquisition, development, or improvement of real property or for the acquisition of public transportation equipment or facilities.
3. The Secretary of OPM submits to the State Bond Commission, prior to the allocation of any bond funds for any of the above actions, an advisory statement commenting on the extent to which such action conforms to the C&D plan.
The current C&D plan for 2005-2010 is comprised of two separate components – the Plan text and the Locational Guide Map (both downloadable here). Both components include policies that guide the planning and decision-making processes of state government relative to: (1) addressing human resource needs and development; (2) balancing economic growth with environmental protection and resource conservation concerns; and (3) coordinating the functional planning activities of state agencies to accomplish long-term effectiveness and economies in the expenditure of public funds.
The policies contained in the C&D plan text provide the context and direction for state agencies to implement their plans and actions in a manner consistent with the following six Growth Management Principles (GMPs):
1. Redevelop and Revitalize Regional Centers and Areas with Existing or Currently Planned Physical Infrastructure
2. Expand Housing Opportunities and Design Choices to Accommodate a Variety of Household Types and Needs
3. Concentrate Development Around Transportation Nodes and Along Major Transportation Corridors to Support the Viability of Transportation Options
4. Conserve and Restore the Natural Environment, Cultural and Historical Resources, and Traditional Rural Lands
5. Protect and Ensure the Integrity of Environmental Assets Critical to Public Health and Safety
6. Promote Integrated Planning Across all Levels of Government to Address Issues on a Statewide, Regional and Local Basis
Municipalities and Regional Planning Organizations must note any inconsistencies with the Growth Management Principles when developing their own plans of conservation and development.
The Locational Guide Map plays an important role in coordinating relevant state actions by providing a geographical interpretation of the state’s conservation and development policies. The Map comprises the best available digital, standardized, statewide data for each policy’s definitional criteria.
Development Area Policies (In order of priority)
1. Regional Centers – Redevelop and revitalize the economic, social, and physical environment of the state’s traditional centers of industry and commerce.
2. Neighborhood Conservations Areas – Promote infill development and redevelopment in areas that are at least 80% built up and have existing water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure to support such development.
3. Growth Areas – Support staged urban-scale expansion in areas suitable for long-term economic growth that are currently less than 80% built up, but have existing or planned infrastructure to support future growth in the region.
4. Rural Community Centers – Promote concentration of mixed-use development such as municipal facilities, employment, shopping, and residential uses within a village center setting.
Conservation Area Policies (In order of priority)
1. Existing Preserved Open Space – Support the permanent protection of public and quasi-public land dedicated for open space purposes.
2. Preservation Areas – Protect significant resource, heritage, recreation, and hazard-prone areas by avoiding structural development, except as directly consistent with the preservation value.
3. Conservation Areas – Plan for the long-term management of lands that contribute to the state’s need for food, water and other resources and environmental quality by ensuring that any changes in use are compatible with the identified conservation value.
4. Rural Lands – Protect the rural character of these areas by avoiding development forms and intensities that exceed on-site carrying capacity for water supply and sewage disposal, except where necessary to resolve localized public health concerns.
Our next post will discuss changes made to Connecticut’s smart growth program in the most recent legislative session.