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What is "Smart Growth"?

“Smart Growth” has been referred to recently in public meetings and even included in our Guiding Principles. “Smart Growth” has many definitions and is a term used widely throughout the planning “realm”. The American Planning Association (APA) adopted a Policy Guide on Smart Growth that contains valuable information on Smart Growth. Below is a excerpt from the APA Policy Guide:

Definition of Smart Growth

Smart Growth is not a single tool, but a set of cohesive urban and regional planning principles that can be blended together and melded with unique local and regional conditions to achieve a better development pattern. Smart Growth is an approach to achieving communities that are socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Smart Growth provides choices — in housing, in transportation, in jobs, and in amenities (including cultural, social services, recreational, educational, among others) — using comprehensive planning to guide, design, develop, manage, revitalize, and build inclusive communities and regions to:

  • have a unique sense of community and place;

  • preserve and enhance valuable natural and cultural resources;

  • equitably distribute the costs and benefits of land development, considering both participants and the short- and long-term time scale;

  • create and/or enhance economic value;

  • expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices in a fiscally responsible manner;

  • balance long-range, regional considerations of sustainability with short-term incremental geographically isolated actions;

  • promote public health and healthy communities;

  • apply up-to-date local and regional performance measures of successful urban and regional growth;

  • encourage compact, transit-accessible (where available), pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use development patterns and land reuse; and,

  • increase collaboration and partnerships to advance place-based and regional goals and objectives, while respecting local land-use preferences and priorities."

-APA Policy Guide on Smart Growth

The APA webpage, link provided throughout this post, includes additional information including benefits of “Smart Growth” and is a recommended resource for additional information on “Smart Growth”.


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