Smart growth principles, part 1

Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration

Growth can create great places to live, work and play—if it responds to a community’s own sense of how and where it wants to grow. Communities have different needs and will emphasize some smart growth principles over others: those with robust economic growth may need to improve housing choices; others that have suffered from disinvestment may emphasize infill development; newer communities with separated uses may be looking for the sense of place provided by mixed-use town centers; and still others with poor air quality may seek relief by offering transportation choices. The common thread among all, however, is that the needs of every community and the programs to address them are best defined by the people who live and work there.

Citizen participation can be time-consuming, frustrating and expensive, but encouraging community and stakeholder collaboration can lead to creative, speedy resolution of development issues and greater community understanding of the importance of good planning and investment. Smart Growth plans and policies developed without strong citizen involvement will at best not have staying power; at worst, they will be used to create unhealthy, undesirable communities. When people feel left out of important decisions, they will be less likely to become engaged when tough decisions need to be made. Involving the community early and often in the planning process vastly improves public support for smart growth and often leads to innovative strategies that fit the unique needs of each community.

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