Trends in Master Planning for Small Towns

Master Planning for small communities is developing a new language in response to the current economic and housing issues facing the country.  The APA and Smart Growth America are currently emphasizing this new vocabulary in their educational components.  There is a focus on predictability, efficient resource allocation, and an emphasis on solving specific community issues.

Another current trend is to emphasize a more user-friendly community profile than was the norm in the past.  It is important to develop usable information that is easily understandable by the community. It is also necessary to present this in a graphic manner, making it more easily accessible to the general public.  Residents are the one's that really need to understand the forces acting on their community today and in the future.

The citizens also need to understand long-term implications of the decisions they are making in the development of the Comprehensive Plan. Community members often tend to ignore national or regional trends. Long-term trends, including slow, medium, and fast growth forecasts can be helpful.  This allows community members to discuss what factors can influence the growth rate.    This discussion can be very helpful for planning purposes.  Some good questions include: What don't we want that we don't have control over but might be able to mitigate? and What do we want that we can control and plan for?

Sustainability is an additional component for many cities and towns in their planning.  This includes environmental as well as economic components.  As towns have seen reductions in revenue, they are working hard to provide the services and other elements expected by residents.  Several studies point to the importance of increasing tax revenues through higher density, infill projects in existing downtowns, as one example of how planning can impact economic sustainability.

© tpg 2016