I recently attended the Piedmont Triad Tomorrow Summit, an event in Winston-Salem bringing together local and regional planners from a 12-county area in central North Carolina. Featuring a wide array of topics - and lots of advice for sparking economic growth - the summit was an opportunity for planners to meet, mingle, and learn. The event was sponsored by the Piedmont Triad Regional Council (PTRC), one of North Carolina’s 16 regional councils, and structured to help the council’s member governments confront economic development challenges and get tips on kick-starting and strengthening their local economies.
An important part of a planner’s job is engaging all members of the community in the planning decisions that affect them. However, the ultimate beneficiaries of these decisions, the youth of our community, are often not involved in these discussions. Thus, I was honored by the opportunity to participate in Student U Durham’s annual Career Day for Summer Academy students, rising 6th through rising 10th grade Durham Public School students. Student U Durham is a college access organization for Durham Public School students, committed to the vision that all students are destined to succeed.
Dan Hardy attended the ITE Annual Meeting in Toronto this year and writes up his thoughts and impressions from the proceedings.
A new study for the Transportation Research Board looks at how changes and trends -- in demographics, geographic trends, employment, transportation options, etc. – could affect public transportation ridership. Renaissance Planning just completed our portion of the background research that went into the study. There are some very interesting findings turning up that we thought worthy of sharing.
By now you’ve heard of the “retail apocalypse” and its effect on the once-hallowed institution of the American mall. According to Business Insider, more than 5,100 mall-based stores have announced they will close this year. With big-box retailers and mall anchors such as J.C. Penney, Sears, and Macy’s included in this number, the effect destabilizes smaller malls, often sending them into a death spiral. This could result in 25% of the malls in the United States being forced to close by 2022.
The Commonwealth of Virginia was recognized for a National Planning Achievement Award for a Best Practice for its Urban Development Area (UDA) & Technical Assistance Program.
The Commonwealth of Virginia established the UDA program to help communities plan for future growth. In 2010, the Virginia Legislature adopted legislation to require high-growth cities, counties and towns to adopt UDAs as the focus of high density growth for 10 to 20 years. Parallel to the new legislation, the Virginia DOT (VDOT) awarded a series of grants to qualifying localities to offer consultant assistance in planning for these high growth areas. Since the UDA legislation was enacted, 50 jurisdictions have received technical assistance grants totaling nearly $3.6 million.
Renaissance Planning was selected by VDOT to assist Virginia localities incorporate new Urban Development Area (UDA) legislation into their comprehensive plans and zoning and subdivision ordinances in 2010 and again in 2015. The Renaissance Team was chosen to assist 10 localities throughout the Commonwealth in 2010 in adopting and implementing smart growth and traditional neighborhood development principles under the grant program. Since 2015, they have been working with an additional 10 communities in a new round of technical assistance grants to localities.
Techniques and tools used in the project included a variety of innovative code provisions such as incentives for mixed use, traditional neighborhood design, affordable housing, transfer of development rights, multi-modal transportation, access management and road connectivity.
Renaissance has worked for localities across the state in the counties of Albemarle, Amherst, Bedford, Caroline, Fauquier, Montgomery and Rockingham, the city of Harrisonburg and the towns of Blacksburg and Broadway. The team is currently leading its second round of technical assistance working with some of the same localities and some new ones, including the counties of Albemarle, Botetourt, Franklin and Rockingham, the cities of Norfolk and Vinton and the Towns of Christiansburg, Amherst, Culpeper and Warrenton. Most recently, their plan for the Westlake Village in Franklin County also won an APA National Merit Award for the Counties Division.