Getting the Benefits of Growth Without the Growing Pains
How will growth affect your quality of life?
Chances are your town, city or county has a plan setting forth a vision of how your area will grow. The document may be called a growth management plan, master plan, comprehensive plan, general development plan, small area plan, sector plan, land use plan, or go by some other label.
A really good plan will provide specifics like whether:
the students from new homes will cause your neighborhood schools to become overcrowded,
will your daily commute take twice as long over the next decade, and
will the waters nearest your home be clean enough to serve as aquatic playgrounds for your children.
Sadly, though, very few growth plans provide such a clear portrait of how a locality will change with more shopping centers, housing projects, highways, and other development.
The premise for this webpage and the grading system presented here is that tax-payers, voters and other residents deserve to know how the growth depicted in a plan will affect their quality of life. More importantly, a plan can cause growth to follow more than one scenario. Residents deserve the opportunity to choose the growth scenario which best preserves and enhances their quality of life.
By providing this opportunity public participation in the growth management process increases. It also creates the public support elected officials need to make hard choices, like shifting the cost of paying for new schools or roads from taxpayers to the real estate interests who profit from growth and who are among the top election campaign contributors. CEDS calls this approach to land use planning Quality of Life Growth Management.
A good plan will show how anticipated growth is likely to affect quality of life for both current and future residents as well as those who work or visit the planning area. CEDS refers to a document meeting this criteria as a Quality of Life Growth Management Plan. In this webpage we'll explain how you can grade the effectiveness of your local plan in preserving and enhancing quality of life based upon the factors listed to the left.
To demonstrate that quality of life will be preserved and even enhanced with anticipated growth, the plan must:
Present quantifiable criteria for assessing the impact of growth on each quality of life factor likely to be affected by future development,
Based on these criteria, show how past growth has affected each quality of life factor,
Use the criteria to show how the effect will likely change with anticipated growth,
Propose actions to prevent an undue decline in quality of life,
Also propose actions to enhance existing quality of life, and
Provide the factual basis for why the actions are likely to produce the benefits claimed in the plan, along with any uncertainty.
For a summary of the grading criteria and questions go to Quality of Life Summary Table.
The following illustrates how the preceding six components of a Quality of Life Growth Management Plan would play out with regard to schools. The quantifiable value for assessing school impact is Percent Utilization, which is computed by dividing enrollment by school capacity. Current percent utilization as well as that at the end of the planning period is presented in the plan for each individual public school. Planning periods are usually 10 or more years with updates every five or six years.
In this hypothetical scenario the planning area is served by four public schools. First the plan would show current utilization at the four schools. Enrollment is based upon an actual count of students made after the start of the school year. School capacity is based upon established formulas such as 20 students per classroom times the number of classrooms in the school (not including portables). Note that enrollment exceeds capacity at three of the four schools shown in the following table (utilization >100%).
|School||2016 Enrollment||2016 Capacity||Utilization|
Next, the plan shows how enrollment would change with the anticipated growth presented elsewhere in the plan. Many developing areas see an annual population increase of about 1%. The 2026 enrollment below is based upon this average increase. Of course enrollment reflects birth rates which tends to peaks and valleys. The following table shows that at the end of the ten-year period (2026) overcrowding at the three schools will become far worse.
|School||2026 Enrollment||2026 Capacity||Utilization|
The actions recommended in the plan for resolving this quality of life issue is to: 1) build a new elementary school and 2) expand the middle school. The following table shows this resolves overcrowding by reducing utilization to below 100%. The only question remaining is whether elected officials will allocate the funds in time to implement both actions.
|School||2026 Enrollment||2026 Capacity||Utilization|
|Washington Middle Addition of 200 seats||1055||1100||96%|
A more detailed example of the information a plan should contain is provided for another Quality of Life factor at: Streams, Lakes, Rivers & Tidal Waters Growth Management Grading Illustration.
The best way to keep your community a great place to live is to incorporate quality of life growth management into every aspect of the local use and development review process. A sound quality of life growth management (QLGM) plan serves as the cornerstone in preserving and enhancing quality of life through growth management.
The QLGM plan is developed through a process that maximizes participation by all community members and consists of the following steps:
Through mechanisms such as public opinion surveys, neighborhood meetings, and focus groups identify the growth-affected quality of life factors the community views as important.
Through these same mechanisms, develop a set of objective criteria for evaluating how a specific growth scenario will affect those quality of life factors the community values. Examples of criteria are presented below in the portion of this webpage headed Grading A Growth Management Plan and in the Summary Table.
Again using mechanisms which maximize public involvement, identify realistic growth scenarios for the community.
Through an open process, rate how each growth scenario will affect the quality of life factors using the community's quality of life impact criteria.
After circulating the results of the ratings, employ a variety of mechanisms for maximizing community participation in selecting the:
most desirable growth scenario,
a combination of scenarios, or
drafting new scenarios if all those previously identified fail to provide the benefits desired by the community.
Once the community reaches consensus on the most desirable growth scenario, a QLGM plan is drafted. The plan sets forth:
the process used to select the community's desired growth scenario;
the benefits this scenario will provide;
the changes to laws, government programs, and other mechanisms required to achieve the community's desired pattern of growth; and
infrastructure improvements, like new schools, needed to achieve the benefits of growth with fewer pains.
The draft QLGM plan is then circulated throughout the community for review.
The final draft of the QLGM is formally adopted by the local elected body.
As stated above, to ensure that future growth patterns match the desired scenario set forth in the QLGM plan, local laws regulating how development occurs must be amended accordingly. These laws would include zoning and subdivision ordinances, stormwater management regulations, etc. It may also be necessary to change how tax dollars are spent which would involve amendments to the local budget, the capital improvement program, etc.
This QLGM planning process should be repeated every six- to ten-years or whenever conditions warrant reconsideration of the community's desired growth scenario, such as when a major rezoning proposal is made, a Planned Unit Development is under consideration, or an annexation request is received.
In this section we'll provide guidance for grading a plan with regard to specific quality of life factors. The easiest way to do this is to download the plan onto your computer. Most plans are in a format (pdf, Word, etc.) you can search for keywords.
As stated earlier, a good plan will present criteria for assessing the effect of past and anticipated growth with regard to each quality of life factor. In the school example given above the criteria was % Utilization (enrollment ÷ capacity). When this information is present it will usually be in the form of a table listing each school within the planning area. It could also be a map or in some other format. With most quality of life factors the grading process consists of the following steps.
See if the table of contents includes a list of tables and figures.
If the lists are present then see if there's a table or figure for each quality of life factor. The question then is whether the criteria data is present in the list or table at the level of detail recommended below for each factor. In the case of schools this would be:
current enrollment-capacity for each public school plus;
enrollment-capacity for each public school with anticipated growth; and
enrollment-capacity for each public school resulting from actions to resolve overcrowding.
If neither a list or table is present, then check the table of contents to see if a chapter or section addresses the quality of life factor. If it is then read through the chapter to see data is present.
When all else fails try searching the plan for keywords for each quality of life factor. Continuing with the school example, search for the name of each school serving your neighborhood. If your local schools are not present in the text then chances are the plan lacks data on all other individual schools. Keyword suggestions are provided below for each specific quality of life factor. Of course to do the search the plan must be in a searchable format. If not then you have a lot of reading to do.
No doubt you'll find some Quality of Life Factors more important than others. It's up to you which ones you use in grading a growth management or land use plan. Some factors may simply be irrelevant to your situation. For example, a highly developed planning area may have no cropfields, pastures or other agricultural areas which leaves little purpose in grading Farmland Preservation. But if one farm remains and is a vital element of community character then this factor becomes highly relevant.
Following are definitions for a couple of the phrases frequently used below.
Anticipated Growth: The phrase anticipated growth refers to the growth projected by the end of the planning period. Usually the focus is on how population will change by a target year set a decade or more into the future. Population change can be used to predict how the number of houses will increase along with traffic volume, impervious area and aquatic resource impacts, need for beefing up police staffing and that for other public safety functions, and on the list could go.
Five questions are presented for most of the specific quality of life factors. A firm, unequivocal YES to a question equals one point. There will be situations where a question can be partially answered yes. In this case a point value of less than one is an option. For example, the fourth question for each factor is usually two-part:
Are actions recommended for resolving a negative effect, and
Does the plan contain text providing the factual basis for why the action is likely to achieve the degree of resolution claimed along with a description of uncertainties?
A half-point would be justified for a Yes to either of this two-part question.
A Yes to all five questions yields a total score of 5 points and a letter grade of A. Lesser totals equal letter grades of:
4 = B
3 = C
2 = D
1 = E
0 = F
If you assess more than one specific quality of life factor then the average score can be equated to a letter grade using this same scale. For example, an average of 3.4 would be rounded to 3 for a C or you can call it a C+ if you wish. An average of 3.6 would be rounded up to a 4 or B. You could also call it a B-.
Following are links to forms for your use in grading a plan:
Now onto the specific Quality of Life factors.
A number of states use a formula to determine how many students a school building can accommodate or its design capacity. For example, in Maryland a Kindergarten classroom has a design capacity of 22 students while that for a Grade 1 to 5 classroom is 23. A Maryland elementary school with 20 classrooms (3 K, 17 1-5) has a design capacity of about 457 students.
In other states, such as North Carolina, the focus is on class size. North Carolina policy presently calls for no more than 17 second or third grade students per teacher.
The Education Commission of the 50 States provides a state-by-state comparison of teacher-student ratios and other school variables. For the purpose of grading a plan we'll refer to either the enrollment-capacity ratio or the teacher-student ratio as Percent Utilization. Exceeding 100% utilization is termed Overcrowding.
The plan should show the present and future Percent Utilization of each public school within the planning area. While exceeding the ratios by a few percentage points does not necessarily mean that education quality will decline, a continued rise in overcrowding can only make it more likely.
Preferred options for resolving overcrowding include:
In more severe situations less popular options must be considered, such as:
For further information visit the CEDS webpage:
For further information visit the CEDS webpage:Preventing School Overcrowding & Other Development Impacts.
Keywords: enrollment, capacity, utilization, students, pupils, overcrowding.
If all public schools are at or below 100% utilization presently and with anticipated growth then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
The degree of traffic congestion is rated using a system known as Level of Service (LOS). Like school grades, A is best while F is gridlock. At an LOS of E you'll spend two to four times longer in congested traffic compared to a D level of service. In suburban-urban areas an LOS of E-F is usually considered unacceptable. Development should be prohibited if it will add traffic to roads with an LOS of E or F. Growth should also be restricted if it would cause LOS to decline from D to E. However, some ultra-urban areas allow LOS to reach E before imposing development restrictions. In rural areas C may be the most severe congestion considered acceptable.
At a minimum, a plan should give the current LOS for all signalized intersections (those with a traffic light). The plan should also show how LOS will change with anticipated growth.
Recommendations must be included for resolving existing and future congestion. These recommendations might include:
For further information visit:
Keywords: Level of service, LOS, congestion, traffic.
Suggested Criteria: Congestion as measured with current Level of Service criteria at all intersections with a traffic light.
If all signalized intersections operate at an acceptable Level of Service presently and with anticipated growth then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
The plan should list all of the waters significant enough to have a name (e.g. Smith River, Ferry Branch, Vista Lake, etc.) within the planning area. The plan should present the quality of each expressed as:
Excellent waters are fit for all human uses and can support sensitive fish and other aquatic creatures.
Good waters can support a high number of game fish but not highly-sensitive organisms.
Fair waters support few game fish and are not suitable for swimming.
Poor quality waters support only the most pollution-tolerant organisms and one should avoid body contact.
Forest dominated watersheds are usually of Excellent quality.
A mix of forest and farms with good cropfield soil-water conservation practices produces Good quality waters.
A mix of farms, forest and suburban development yields Fair quality waters.
Intense suburban-urban development usually results in Poor water quality.
The percent of a watershed covered by buildings, streets, parking lots and other impervious surfaces also relates to aquatic resource quality as:
Excellent less than 5% impervious area;
Good less than 10% impervious area;
Fair less than 15% impervious area; and
Poor greater than 15% impervious area.
In addition to current quality the plan should show how the health of named streams, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and tidal waters will change with anticipated growth. The change can be determined by estimating how watershed impervious area will increase with future growth. Further development-caused aquatic resource damage can be prevented if the runoff from all new impervious surfaces drains to highly-effective Best Management Practices (BMPs). Without these BMPs each acre of impervious area added to an Excellent quality watershed degrades 660 feet of downstream waters.
Waters harmed by past development can be restored if existing impervious areas are redeveloped with highly-effective BMPs. In fact, 165 feet of downstream waters may be restored for every acre of existing impervious area retrofitted so the runoff is treated with highly-effective BMPs.
The plan should describe the steps taken to ensure that all future development will fully utilize these highly-effective BMPs or explain why not. The plan must also set forth actions that will be taken to restore Fair or Poor quality waters to a Good condition. However, restoring waters to an Excellent condition may not be attainable. Indeed, restoration to a Good condition is difficult.
These actions may include: retrofitting existing impervious
surfaces with highly-effective BMPs, upgrading wastewater treatment
plants, and fixing sewers prone to overflows.
Only after these three steps are taken should in-stream
restoration or planting trees be considered.
It’s not that these two measures are unimportant.
They just are not
enough to prevent degradation or restore
For further information visit: Protecting Wetlands, Streams, Lakes, Tidal Waters & Wells from the Impacts of Land Development.
Keywords: impervious area, BMP, stormwater management, restoration, retrofit, excellent, good, fair, poor, stream, lake, river, estuary, tidal, marine and wetland.
Suggested Criteria: Current and future quality based on the percent impervious area for the watershed of each named water body or waterway.
If all named waters are of Good to Excellent quality both presently and with anticipated growth then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
number of towns, cities, counties and states seek to provide 10 acres of
park and recreation area per 1,000 residents.
This general rule of thumb seems to be falling by the wayside
however. A better approach
those living in the planning area to learn
how they view the adequacy of ball fields, hiking-biking trails, pools, and other
Based upon these current use rates, projections can be made regarding the
need for expansions with anticipated growth.
The plan must then contain text showing how any deficits will be
resolved. For a large city
or county the supply-demand analysis should be done for each area where
population density and other characteristics may create unique
park-recreation needs. For further information visit the: webpage.
For further information visit the:National Recreation and Park Association
Keywords: park, recreation, open space, demand, supply, ballfield, trail, pool.
If park-recreation areas meet the criteria presently and with anticipated growth then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
Ensuring an adequate stock of affordable housing is crucial for allowing young singles, seniors, and new families to live in your area as well as police, teachers and our other underpaid public servants. Affordable housing is broadly defined as that requiring no more than 30% of monthly income for those earning 65% of the median for an area.
The plan should set forth the current demand-supply of affordable housing and project how this would change in the future. The City of Bellevue Housing Needs Assessment is an excellent example of such an analysis. Some of the options for increasing the supply of affordable housing are:
For further information see:
For further information see:Evaluating Affordable Housing Development Strategies.
Keywords: affordable, moderately priced, inclusionary, poverty, housing.
Suggested Criteria: Supply of affordable housing compared to the demand.
If the supply meets the demand for affordable housing presently and with anticipated growth then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
Buildings and sites of local or national significance are a vital part
of what makes a community great.
The plan should: list all archaeological, cultural and historic resources, identify those
potentially threatened by future growth, recommend actions for
safeguarding each then explain why the measures have a high probability
of achieving long term preservation. Preservation frequently
involves more than just safeguarding a building. To allow for full
appreciation of the significance of a resource it may be necessary to
preserve the area adjoining the building. Preservation actions may
include easements and other deed restrictions, protective zoning regulations,
establishment of preservation districts, purchase of the resource by an entity
committed to preservation, and other actions. For further
Preservation frequently involves more than just safeguarding a building. To allow for full appreciation of the significance of a resource it may be necessary to preserve the area adjoining the building. Preservation actions may include easements and other deed restrictions, protective zoning regulations, establishment of preservation districts, purchase of the resource by an entity committed to preservation, and other actions. For further information see:Historic Preservation Basics - Section 106 Compliance and HUD, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Keywords: historic, cultural, archaeological, heritage, landmark, national register.
Suggested Criteria: Preservation of significant archaeological, cultural and historic resources.
If there are no archaeological, cultural or historic resources within the planning area or they are all secure then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
A significant portion of our taxes is used to cover the growth costs such as: school capacity expansions, new roads, increased water-sewer capacity, as well as ensuring that police, fire and emergency service capabilities keep pace. While one often hears that growth expands the tax base and lowers taxes, research belies this claim.
North Carolina researchers found that as an area went from 125 to 250 people/square mile taxes declined but increased when population then rose past 250. In Oregon the relationship was one of increasing taxes with growth. These two studies are a bit dated. The following graph is based on current data and shows that tax rates increase as municipal population rises.
Local governments have a number of options for shifting the cost of infrastructure expansions to those who profit from growth. For example, 29 states have passed legislation allowing local governments to charge developers impact fees The impact fee is usually set at a level equal to the cost of the physical construction needed to accommodate growth. In the case of schools this would be the cost of building a new school but not ongoing expenses like teacher salaries, books and other items needed for teaching in the new school.
The plan should show how much of current taxes are going to bonds and other encumbrances for past growth. Estimates of the cost to provide the infrastructure expansions needed to accommodate growth should be included as well. The plan must then recommend measures, such as impact fees, to shift the cost of these expansions from tax-payers to those who profit directly from development. Community Impact Model.
Keywords: infrastructure, construction, tax, impact fee, exaction, surcharge, expansion, extension, sewer, road construction, new school.
Suggested Criteria: Cost of infrastructure expansion and effect on tax-payer burden.
By 2020, just one form of air pollution will cause 230,000 deaths in the U.S. Our cars, SUV’s and pickups account for 17% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and up to 90% of all air pollution. An increase in traffic volume is the most significant air pollution source affected by growth. Yet actions such as increasing car-pools and mass transit ridership can counter the effects of growth on air quality. Compared to driving along, joining a car pool can cut emissions by 25% and taking the bus achieves an 85% reduction.
The plan should utilize a criteria that directly relates to traffic-caused air pollution. Percent of commuters driving alone is one of the factors readily available from the U.S. Census Bureau. Current figures for the factor(s) should be provided in the plan along with those for anticipated growth.
State Implementation Plans (SIP) provide data on compliance with air quality standards. The SIP for your area may show current and future emissions levels along with actions needed to resolve public health threats.
A growth management-land use plan must contain recommended actions such as:
The change in emissions resulting from each measure must be
quantified along with the factual basis for the reduction likely to be
achieved with each. For further information see:
For further information see: USEPATransportation, Air Pollution, and Climate Change
andCan We Please Stop Pretending Cars Are Greener Than Transit?
Keywords: air pollution, greenhouse gas, climate change, air quality, global warming, emissions, mobile source, car pool, driving alone, commuter, particulate matter, mass transit, bus.
Childhood obesity is reaching staggering proportions in the U.S. It’s also increasing among other age groups. Part of the problem is a paucity of safe ways for kids to walk or bike to school. Another part is a lack of paths all of us can use to walk-bike to parks, shopping or other nearby locations.
The Federal Highway Administration report Pedestrian and Bicycle Data Collection in United States Communities provides a number of methods to quantify walking-biking participation and the suitability of paths, trails, bike lanes, etc. Data regarding trail, paths and other walking-biking facilities may be found in the parks-recreation portion of a growth plan or in other reports.
Growth management and land use plans should use these methods to quantify current walkability
throughout the planning area and to project how it may change with anticipated growth.
Recommendations should be included for improving walkability and
cycling opportunities in areas where a decline is projected or where
these activities are presently low. For further information see:
For further information see:WalkScore and the Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Center.
Keywords: pedestrian, bicycle, cycling, bike lane, trail, path, walking, obesity, health.
As an area grows police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) must expand too.
Police: In the past, staffing ratios have served as a very broad brush means of assessing the adequacy of police services. However, research shows that staffing ratios are a poor basis for determining how many police should be assigned to a specific precinct. Staffing ratios make more sense when one locality is compared to other planning areas of a similar size and where other relevant factors are comparable. For example, the 2016 Milwaukee public safety plan correlated deficits in citywide police staffing ratios to crime increases. The plan also presented a comparison of the Milwaukee staffing ratio with similar U.S. cities to justify recommended increases.
In 2013, the national average was 2.1 sworn police officers per 1,000 residents with a range of 1.6- to 2.4-officers/1,000 residents for five population ranges between 1,000 to 100,000 residents.
Fire Protection Services: Response time is one of the criteria used for assessing fire protection services adequacy. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) calls for a 4.9 minute fire response time in urban areas. In ISO Mitigation it was reported that "more than 1,000 fire stations in the United States lack basic response capabilities for structure fires". Fire insurance rates tend to be higher in areas with poorer response times.
Emergency Medical Services: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 1710 recommends a response time of four minutes for 90% of Basic Life Support calls and eight minutes for Advanced Life Support.
The plan should use these or other generally accepted criteria to rate the adequacy of police, fire and EMS services throughout the planning area. The plan should also show how staffing ratios, response times and other indicators may change with anticipated growth.
Additionally, the plan should add a context for service quality,
such as the impact on fire insurance rates, changes in crime rates or
public perceptions of safety, patient outcomes, etc.
Finally, the plan must present recommended actions for maintaining or
even improving service quality such as building new stations, adding
more personnel and equipment, or curtailing growth in areas where
service quality is unacceptably low and resources are not available for
improving service. For further information see: ,
NFPA Standard 1710.
For further information see:A Performance-Based Approach to Police Staffing and Allocation
,Fire Prevention Saves Dollars and Community
, and NFPA Standard 1710.
Keywords: police, fire, EMS, emergency medical services, response time, insurance, crime, patient outcome.
If police, fire and EMS meet the criteria presently and with anticipated growth then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
Few landscape features enhance our quality of life more than an abundance of trees in our neighborhoods and along our streets. Trees play a vital role in cleansing our air and waters. They also makes our homes more valuable. And without forests many of our wildlife species would disappear.
A number of states and local governments have adopted tree and forest protection laws. Localities have included tree-forest goals in their growth plans like the 50% urban tree canopy target set by Annapolis, MD. Several webpages provide guidance regarding urban tree canopies: Watershed Forestry Resource Guide and NOAA Climate Resiliency and Urban Tree Canopy Assessment. For further information: Arbor Day Foundation, TreePeople, and Tree Protection Laws By State.
Keywords: tree, forest, canopy, urban tree canopy.
If tree-forest cover meet the criteria presently and with anticipated growth then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
Protection of streams, rivers, lakes and tidal waters from stormwater impacts was addressed in the section above on Aquatic Resources. Here the focus is on the maintenance of existing ponds and other stormwater management facilities.
Converting a forest-covered watershed to one covered with homes on quarter-acre lots can increase the frequency and severity of downstream flooding by a hundred fold. The flooding can cause stream channels to erode to a width two- to eight-times greater than prior to development. Pollution loads can dramatically increase and eliminate all but the hardiest forms of aquatic life.
Ponds and other runoff control Best Management Practices (BMPs) are crucial to preventing flooding, channel erosion, water pollution and loss of aquatic life. Beginning in the 1980s many localities started requiring that new development include BMPs. However, studies in Maryland, Virginia, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and elsewhere have revealed that many existing BMPs are not being maintained. As a result development impacts are greater than anticipated. If the public is to gain an accurate picture of the tradeoffs between growth, flood damage, and the health of waterways then the plan must present an accurate assessment of BMP condition.
Volunteers assessing stormwater BMP condition
In most localities BMP owners are required to perform the maintenance needed to keep a facility in good condition. Regular inspections by government agency personnel are key to ensuring that BMP owners perform the required maintenance. Frequency of inspections needed to achieve a high degree of compliance ranges from once a year to once every three years. Records of BMP condition should reveal the percent in need of maintenance. For further information: Greater Baltimore Stormwater BMP Survey and the James River BMP Study.
Keywords: stormwater, BMP, Best Management Practice, runoff, flood, pond, basin, inspection, maintenance.
Suggested Criteria: Percent of BMPs in Good condition. An example of what constitutes good condition can be found in the CEDS report Stormwater Best Management Practices Greater Baltimore Survey 2016.
From 2000 to 2014 the cost of flood damage totaled $129 billion throughout the U.S. and caused more than a thousand fatalities. About 9.6 million of the 125 million households in the U.S. are located in areas subject to flooding. A good growth plan will show how further development will managed in ways that do not place more people in jeopardy while reducing risks to those who already live in these hazardous areas.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) oversees the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Program guidance stipulates that the first floor of a home should be at least one-foot above the elevation floodwaters would reach once every 100-years (aka Base Flood Elevation).
FEMA uses a voluntary Community Rating System to grade how effectively local jurisdictions are managing flood protection. Each of the nearly 1400 communities participating in the NFIP is assigned to one of ten Classes, with Class 1 being the best. The better the class, the greater the flood insurance discount. For example, Class 1 communities get a 45% discount while Class 10 pays full flood insurance rates.
The monthly rating updates are available online at FEMA's Community Rating System webpage. The more a community actively discourages new floodplain development and works to protect current floodplain structures from damage the better rating it receives. If your locality has a number of homes vulnerable to flooding and it isn't participating in the voluntary Community Rating System, then it should reconsider participation.
Flood prone areas are shown on FEMA flood maps. Ideally, no new homes should be built in flood prone areas.
Damage to existing homes in flood prone areas can be reduced using a variety of flood-proofing methods, like raising the house so the first floor is above the 100-year flood elevation. In addition, flood control structures such as dams and levees can reduce the likelihood of future flooding. For further information see Flooding & Watershed Development and FEMA Managing Floodplain Development.
Keywords: floodplain, flood prone, flood insurance, coastal flooding, riverine flooding, storm surge, community rating.
If flooding is not an issue within the planning area then the score for this quality of life factor is 5 or A. Of course the data proving this must be presented in the plan.
About 45% of the U.S. is pasture, rangeland or cropland. Between 1982 and 2012, 24 million acres or 2.5% of U.S. farmland was developed. Preserving these and other agricultural areas is vital to our economy, maintaining food production, keeping our air and water clean, maintaining wildlife habitat, and for safeguarding rural character. As of 2015 only 0.3% of our farmland was preserved with easements or other development restrictions, making 99.7% vulnerable to development pressures. Particularly at-risk farms are those located in rapidly developing areas.
The best way to protect agricultural land is to support owners in keeping their farms profitable. Yet no other option is more effective in preserving farms in rapidly growing areas than restricting development through low-density zoning and other land use regulations. But it is unfair to take a farm owner's equity by down-zoning without just compensation. This is where programs like Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) and conservation easements come in. In a number of cases a farm owner can get more income through PDRs than from selling their land to development interests. Plus the farm stays in production. For further information see Status of State Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) Programs and visit the Farmland Information Center.
Keywords: farm, agriculture, cropland, pasture, purchase of development rights, transfer of development rights, conservation easement.
If there is no farmland within the planning area then this factor should not be included.
The water consumed by you and your neighbors either comes from a lake, reservoir, river, or from a groundwater aquifer via wells. Each of us uses 80 - 100 gallons of water per day. And each new home means another 400 gallons per day of clean water must be provided.
A growth management plan must document the quantity of water that can be safely withdrawn from all practical sources under drought conditions. The available supply must then be compared with current demand as well as that with anticipated growth. If demand comes too close to safe supply limits then the plan must recommend actions to offset the shortage.
The best way to prevent excessive withdrawal is to establish the safe yield or sustainable yield for each aquifer via a water balance analysis. Either approach begins by calculating the amount of precipitation replenishing (recharging) the source during drought periods. Since precipitation supplies the freshwater flowing into wetlands, streams and other waterways the amount required to keep these aquatic resources healthy must be subtracted. Next all other uses must be accounted for: irrigation, industrial processing, cooling, hydroelectric, etc. After taking into account these and other needs, one arrives at the amount of water that can be safely-sustainably withdrawn with a margin for safety. Growth must then be limited to that which will not exceed this amount.
Climate change may have a substantial effect on future water supplies. A Potomac River study indicated that the combined effect of precipitation declines and increased temperature may cause a 35% reduction in the amount of water entering the nation's river by the year 2040. The following water supply stress map from the 2014 National Climate Assessment shows the potential effects of climate change across the nation.
Keywords: water supply, drinking water, withdrawal, safe yield, sustainable yield, water balance, aquifer, reservoir, intake.
Suggested Criteria: Safe or sustainable yield based on drought-period water balance or equally comprehensive, science-based analysis.
If the data shows a deficiency will not exist then the grade for this factor is 5 or A.
If you grade your local growth management plan then use the online form to add your findings to the CEDS Growth Management & Land Use Planning Database & Map. If you use the Excel spreadsheet for your analysis then email the file to: Help@ceds.org. We’ll post your results on a map of the U.S. Let us know if you’d like us to include your name and email address on the map. With enough additions the map could highlight states with very good plans as well as those in need of increased public support.
I f your current plan is about to expire and it rates poorly
based on the preceding Quality of Life Growth Management system, then
the time may be perfect to replace it with a much better plan.
CEDS can assist you in carrying out all the steps outlined above under
the heading of
For a fee we can draft text you can recommend. Usually its best to
begin with the in the next section.
f your current plan is about to expire and it rates poorly based on the preceding Quality of Life Growth Management system, then the time may be perfect to replace it with a much better plan. CEDS can assist you in carrying out all the steps outlined above under the heading ofDeveloping a Quality of Life Growth Management Plan.
For a fee we can draft text you can recommend. Usually its best to begin with theQuality of Life Growth Management Workshop described
in the next section.
CEDS can conduct a workshop in your area on how to rate past growth management and how well your current plan will preserve and enhance quality of life. We can also assist you in formulating a strategy to provide your local planning and elected officials with the public support needed to improve growth management. Our fee and expenses can usually be covered by charging each workshop participant $50 to $100. To explore the possibility of a workshop for your area contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org.
If you wish CEDS can review and grade your local growth management plan using the procedures outlined above. Our fee for this service usually ranges from $750 to $1,250 depending upon plan complexity. To discuss this option contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org.
For help grading your local growth management plan contact CEDS at 410-654-3021 or Help@ceds.org. We never charge for answering questions from folks seeking to improve growth management. However, if research is required to answer your question then we’ll explain how you can do this on your own. We can also let you know what it would cost to have CEDS do the research for you.