A Municipal Growth and Development Toolkit for Peripheral Communities
Proposals for higher housing density and compact neighborhoods often raise community concern. In light of the rising economic, social, and environmental costs of sprawling development, civic leaders and planners in rapidly growing communities on the Twin Cities metropolitan edge need the tools and resources to rethink traditional suburban approaches to development and to address citizen concerns about more compact and higher density development patterns. Working with the developing communities of Farmington and Rosemount, faculty members in the Department of Geography created alternative development scenarios for the two cities that demonstrated the economic and environmental costs of standard suburban single-family development, the link between this type of development and limited housing affordability, and the relationship between design and successful higher density developments that respect community character. Using this project as a foundation, the investigators intend to create a growth and development toolkit to help build local capacity and community support for higher density, smart growth development. Components of the toolkit would include (1) a model for developing smart growth land-use maps using GIS, (2) approaches to encourage community involvement and collaboration, and (3) resources to demonstrate to citizens the impacts of standard suburban single-family development and the benefits of more compact, higher density development. The toolkit would assist civic leaders and planners in gaining community support for better long-term comprehensive plans, more walkable and livable communities, and more affordable housing, and would have wide application to other communities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The investigators are searching for funding to continue this project to the toolkit-development stage.