People of all ages want local sustainability

By Chris Nordstrom PLA, ASLA

According to a survey completed by the National Recreation and Park Association, over 83% of Americans 18 years or older feel it is important for local governments to prioritize environmental initiatives. Families with children (89%) and Millennials (79%) were the strongest proponents of sustainability. Here’s the NRPA report.

The survey results suggest that communities would do well to look into their own sustainability-based practices. Park and trail development, community level recycling and green infrastructure development all require significant constituent buy-in to be successful. Prudent fiscal management will always be a priority at any level of government. The challenge is identifying methods of incorporating sustainability in a fashion that not only is good for the environment, but ultimately ends up saving the community money.

CWA can help communities meet their sustainability goals by recommending best practices, pursuing grant funds, and identifying opportunities for incorporating green infrastructure into municipal systems. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

Cities’ flood mitigation innovations outpace feds

Every dollar spent on flood mitigation saves $4 in recovery costs. Cities around the U.S. are planning for these disasters although federal spending remains heavily weighted towards post-disaster services instead of prevention, as we see in this article from Governing.com.

After a devastating 1984 flood, Tulsa, OK established systems and procedures that reduced future flood damages. They

  • Established a stormwater management utility
  • Used nature-based solutions for flood control along a critical stream
  • Established a stormwater utility fee for hard surfaces
  • Used open areas for detention
  • Removed structures in floodplains.

In 2013, Boulder fared better than other Colorado communities because they had tied drainage improvements to developments and established funding to buy at-risk properties.

Washington D.C. issued the nation’s first municipal environmental impact bonds. In North Carolina, Charlotte-Mecklenburg County uses storm water fees to relocate buildings and encourage people to move out of flood-prone areas.

Spring training: Staff conduct seminars for MML and Ohio APA

Carlisle/Wortman Associates’ planners routinely train officials around Michigan, both for the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and for specific communities. In February, John Enos taught roles and responsibilities to planning commissioners in Ida Township and he, Chris Atkins and Dave Scurto did MML weekenders on role and responsibilities and economic development.

In March, Laura Kreps was in front of MML members from the Grass Lake area with site plan reviews. Roles and responsibilities will be the topic in April for Ben Carlisle in New Buffalo and in May for John with the Ohio chapters of the American Planning Association.

“Carlisle Wortman has been assisting with League trainings for several years now,” said Kelly Warren, director of affiliate engagement for the Michigan Municipal League. “They are always a pleasure to work with and they thoroughly understand the challenges and needs of our elected and appointed officials….They are always well-prepared and tailor each course for the individual community and officials.”

APA sets principles for federal infrastructure investments

road06-800pxEverybody’s talking about infrastructure. The Michigan Association of Planning has made it a focus of their policy planning for the past two years. Governor Rick Snyder’s 21st Century Infrastructure Commission said the state needs to spend $4 billion a year more than it currently does just to reach the national average of infrastructure spending.

The American Planning Association has reacted to President Trump’s desire to improve the country’s infrastructure by establishing nine principles to guide the efforts of Congress and the administration. A new federal infrastructure program should:

  • Serve multiple modes and types of infrastructure
  • Be driven by local visions and strong regional planning
  • Address long-term funding sustainability
  • Harness private sector investment and creativity to advance and protect the public interest
  • Consider key factors of location and leverage
  • Promote access
  • Advance opportunity for all
  • Embrace and support innovation
  • Make communities safer and more resilient

Planners and public safety officials unite to fight Phragmites

By R. Donald Wortman, AICP, PLA, PCP

This article was originally published in the Michigan Association of Planning’s magazine. This is the type of timely information you receive when you become a member of MAP.

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Kevin Walters, MI DEQ

Over the years, Michigan has been beset with the management of invasive species. We have witnessed the intrusion of unwanted guests such as purple loosestrife, zebra mussels and emerald ash borer. Now a new invasive is intruding on our natural resources and ecosystems with far reaching impacts that goes beyond the natural environment but also impacts local municipalities and community planning. This culprit is Phragmites (Phragmites australis).

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Leaders’ shared vision inspires Center Line development plan

Center Line DDA

Photo by David Lewinski

The city of Center Line has revived its downtown development authority and refocused its tax increment financing (TIF) in a placemaking initiative to attract businesses that serve nearby workers and young people to its tidy blocks of affordable houses.

“The first challenge is getting the willpower and getting a champion,” said CWA’s Dave Scurto in this January 21 Metromode article. “Center Line has overcome this fantastically. Everybody’s working together with the same vision and message. The mayor and the council understand the business community.”

The article features the Center Line city manager/DDA director and the mayor and their plans for a façade improvement program, gateway signage, enhanced wayfinding, streetscape maintenance and online marketing.

Dave compared the initiative to the city of Riverview’s successful plan to acquire a faded shopping center and redevelop it into a medical complex.

Township adds solar energy zoning

By Laura Kreps

solar-zoning-webAugusta Township in Washtenaw County recently adopted a comprehensive large solar energy ordinance to accommodate the Sugar Creek Solar Farm.  The proposed solar farm is located on approximately 644 acres of land that has recently been rezoned to light industrial for large solar energy facility development.  The township board adopted text and map amendments and the planning commission approved a special land use permit. The township expects the applicant to file an application for site plan review later this year.

Solar energy representatives have contacted other CWA clients in southeast Michigan to explore possible sites. Contact us for more information on formulating a solar energy ordinance.