Planning a Community’s Quality of Life

What is Smart Growth?

We often hear elected and appointed officials talk about smart growth as a planning framework for maintaining a community’s quality of life, but what is smart growth?

We’re hoping you’ll join us this Sunday, May 5th when we hear Planning Board candidates, Frank Mand and Tim Bennet, share their thoughts and views around planning Plymouth’s quality of life.

As always, this will be an interactive session not just a series of stump speeches, so please come with your own questions for them – in fact, you might find the EPA’s 10 core principles of Smart Growth helpful in framing up your thoughts.

  1. Mix Land Uses: Integrate residential, commercial, and public spaces within close proximity, fostering a sense of place.
  2. Compact Building Design: Build at higher densities, reducing sprawl and conserving land resources.
  3. Diverse Housing Options: Variety in types (single-family, apartments, condos), costs, and sizes to accommodate people at all life stages and income levels.
  4. Walkable Neighborhoods: Prioritize pedestrian-friendly streets, sidewalks, and paths, encouraging less reliance on cars.
  5. Unique, Attractive Communities: Focus on distinctive architectural styles, sense of place, and human-scale design.
  6. Preserve Open Space: Protect farmland, forests, natural areas, and critical environmental features.
  7. Redevelop Existing Communities: Revitalize urban centers and brownfield sites (previously contaminated land) before expanding outwards.
  8. Transportation Variety: Provide options like biking, public transit, and safe carpooling in addition to driving.
  9. Predictable, Fair, Cost-Effective Development: Streamlined permitting processes with clear expectations and community participation.
  10. Community Collaboration: Stakeholders across all sectors (residents, businesses, governments) working together to shape a shared vision for growth.

Benefits of Smart Growth

  • Healthier Residents: Walkable environments encourage physical activity and reduce auto pollution.
  • Stronger Economy: Diverse, compact neighborhoods attract businesses and create a vibrant local economy.
  • Reduced Infrastructure Costs: Smart growth development patterns lower the expenses of providing roads, utilities, and services over long distances.
  • Environmental Protection: Preserves open spaces, reduces carbon footprint, and promotes wiser use of resources.
  • Enhanced Social Equity: Mixed-income communities foster greater social interaction and economic opportunity.

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