Michigan Land Use Institute

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Regional New Urbanism Resources

April 27, 2006 |
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Michigan Land Use Institute
Web site: www.mlui.org
The state’s leading Smart Growth advocacy organization can help local officials, developers, and citizens who seek more information on, or assistance with, New Urbanist projects in Michigan. The Institute has policy specialists who can help you find out more about what is involved in building vibrant, New Urbanist downtowns and neighborhoods. Contact us at our Web site or at our Traverse City office, 231-941-6584.

New Designs for Growth
Web site: www.tcchamber.org/newdesigns.php
Begun in 1992 under the auspices of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, New Designs has helped shape commercial and residential developments. Its New Designs for Growth Development Guidebook offers clear design guidelines for developers and local government officials, complete with examples from northwest Lower Michigan. It is an excellent resource for applying many New Urbanist design principles.

MLUI/Gary Howe

New Urbanism builds stronger communities and lowers taxes.

Additional New Urbanism Resources

Center for Livable Communities
Web site: www.lgc.org/center 
The center helps local governments and community leaders become more proactive in their land use and transportation planning and adopt programs and policies that lead to more livable and resource-efficient land use patterns.

Congress for the New Urbanism
Web site: www.cnu.org
The primary organization promoting New Urbanist community design principles.

Web site: www.newurbanism.org
A Web site based in Alexandria, Va., that offers a broad compendium of New Urbanist definitions, philosophy, examples, news, developers, and other information.

New Urban News
Web site: www.newurbannews.com
A monthly publication that surveys trends, conferences, and progress related to New Urbanism. It links to many New Urbanist projects, practitioners, and other resources.

Web site: www.placematters.com
A site promoting better neighborhoods through “vision-centered, place-based planning.”

Project for Public Spaces
Web site: www.pps.org
A nonprofit organization dedicated to building and sustaining public places that strengthen a sense of community by drawing more people to them.

Smart Growth America
Web site: www.smartgrowthamerica.com
Smart Growth America is a national coalition of organizations working to improve the ways towns and metro areas grow and develop. It publishes projects, reports, and articles on a varity of Smart Growth topics.

Smart Growth Glossary

Affordable Housing: An increasingly rare commodity in many urban areas, defined as quality housing that costs a working family no more than 30 percent of its household income. For more information on affordable housing check the federal Web site, www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/. For information on affordable housing in Michigan, visit www.lisc.org/michigan/programs/. Find a great deal of guidance for professionals at www.designadvisor.org/ and www.knowledgeplex.org/.

Brownfield Redevelopment: The conversion of abandoned, idle, or under-used industrial and commercial properties into new or restored commercial or residential facilities, most often in urban areas. See the Institute special report, New Plans for Barren Lands,at www.mlui.org. Information on the State of Michigan’s brownfield program is at www.michigan.gov/deq. Click on “Land,” and then on “Land Development.”

Context Sensitive Design: A relatively new approach to highway design that protects a locality’s natural and built landscapes and involves citizens in decision making about the design details of proposed road projects. Search for the Institute’s special report, People and Pavement, at www.mlui.org, or, for information on federal programs, visit www.fhwa.dot.gov/csd.

Design Charrette: An intensive, collaborative planning process that includes professional designers, local officials, and citizens in regional visioning, comprehensive planning efforts, community developments, or even the design of a single building. There is a great deal of information on this design process at www.charrettecenter.net. Training opportunities are listed at www.charretteinstitute.org. A firm that offers charrette consulting services is at www.masterplanning.com/charettes.

Downtown Development Authority (DDA): A legal entity that improves downtown areas by coordinating, supporting, promoting, or acting as fiduciary for beautification and redevelopment projects. See www.michigandowntowns.com or visit the State of Michigan’s site, www.michigan.org/medc/, and click on “Communities.”

Form-Based Coding: A zoning method that regulates the form and function of buildings—i.e., how they look and where they are placed—rather than whether or not they contain commercial or residential operations. For more information, go to www.lgc.org/freepub and click on “Fact Sheets” under “Land Use.” Also, www.formbasedcodes.org/resource.html and www.dpz.com (click on “SmartCode”) offer excellent information.

Inclusionary Zoning: Zoning that requires new housing developments to include a set percentage of units that working families with modest incomes can afford. Use the search engines at www.realtor.org/library/index.html or www.brook.edu/.

Location Efficient Mortgages®:Financial tools that increase the amount of money urban homebuyers can borrow by counting as income the money they save by living in neighborhoods where nearby public transit allows them to use fewer cars. See www.nrdc.org/cities/smartgrowth/qlem.asp or www.locationefficiency.com for more information.

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR): A process that transfers development rights purchased by developers in areas a community wants preserved to areas a community wants developed. The technique, currently unavailable in Michigan, points commercial and residential projects toward (usually urbanized) “receiving areas,” allows farmers and other land owners to cash in their development rights while retaining their property, and costs taxpayers nothing. Visit www.farmlandinfo.org/ and type “transfer of development rights” into the search engine, or consider purchasing Beyond Takings and Givings, listed at www.beyondtakingsandgivings.com.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD): Residential and commercial development that offers easy access to public transportation. These neighborhoods generally have a rail or bus station surrounded by relatively high-density development that gradually becomes less dense farther from the station. Type the phrase into the Federal Transit Authority Web site, www.fta.dot.gov, or visit www.transitorienteddevelopment.com or www.reconnectingamerica.org/html/TOD/index.htm.


Other Resources

American Planning Association:

National Town Builders Association:

National Geographic:

Sierra Business Council:

Smart Growth Network:

The Town Paper:

Walkable Communities Inc.:

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
p (231) 941-6584 
e comments@mlui.org