Regional Community Development News – May 30, 2011 - U.S. Regional Communities

U.S. Regional Communities - sub-State, State or multi-State - in news articles.
In this section links to websites of organizations are added to the news excerpt when this is the first time an organization has been found. A goal of this newsletter is to find every regional council in the U.S. in a news story, as well as recognizing other regional organizations. In most cases, where a full name is present, a Google search will quickly get one to that organization. News reports do not always get the organization name correct. 
    .01  Gov. asked to turn 'wasteful' economic dev. system around
The Legislative Gazette - Albany, NY, USA
Replacing a state economic development system that rewards corporations that don't live up to their end of the bargain is what community and labor organizations are asking the governor to assure them will happen under his regional council initiative. With few details emerging from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office about the creation of regional economic development councils, various state interests are weighing in on how the councils should be implemented. "The new administration has the opportunity to turn a page with its economic development efforts to make them more focused, coordinated and effective," said Matt Ryan, the executive director of the Alliance for a Greater New York. "To do that, they must redefine success from simply announcing a business will retain or create jobs in New York to enacting long-term plans to create quality jobs for local residents, build strong communities and promote a healthy and sustainable environment." In a letter sent to the governor, several dozen community and labor organizations told Cuomo that "as community and labor leaders, we call on you to roll up your sleeves and take on a hard task that has eluded previous governors and Legislatures:  transforming the state's often wasteful and ineffective economic development system into a refocused job-creation program that prioritizes performance standards, accountability and transparency," ... While the groups acknowledged the regional economic councils initiative "could be a big step forward," they argued a long-term plan needs to be developed that coordinates investments to "key industries" to "ensure that public investments are well-spent." 

Note: Link no longer available.
    .02  Regionalism isn't dead, just delayed (editorial)
Press-Register - Mobile, AL, USA
THE ALABAMA Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce and the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce won’t be merging after all. A vote to combine the two fell short of the 75 percent requirement this week. But though the results were disappointing, this doesn’t mean that regionalism is dead among the chambers of commerce in south Baldwin County. Far from it.
... In the meantime, the chambers can continue to work together on issues when it is advantageous to do so. South Baldwin County leaders have already reaped the benefits of combining efforts in the wake of the oil spill. The most visible evidence of such cooperation was the Coastal Resiliency Coalition and its "war room," where leaders from various communities came together to hash out the many problems stemming from the BP disaster.
    .03  County agencies aim to improve efficiency by merging
Ventura County Star - Ventura, CA, USA
The Ventura County Transportation Commission and Ventura Council of Governments have agreed to merge, forming a single integrated agency to oversee transportation, housing and land-use issues. The council's board of directors unanimously agreed to the alliance Thursday night, with the commission's board unanimously concurring Friday. The merger won't occur until later this year, possibly in the fall, said Darren Kettle, who has served as executive director of both agencies since 2009. For it to go forward, Kettle said, the county and the 10 cities in the county that make up the council of governments must approve the merger agreement. ... The commission would absorb the smaller council's duties. The agency would remain the Ventura County Transportation Commission, but be known as the Ventura County Transportation Commission acting as the Ventura Council of Governments when it addresses non-transportation issues, Kettle said. ...
    .04  Pero Pushes For Arts Collaboration, Regional Cooperation
Patch - New London, CT, USA 
Promoting and strengthening the arts community is a key way to make New London a destination point, mayoral candidate Rob Pero said on Thursday at The Gallery at Firehouse Square Pero was speaking at the second in a series of informational forums he is holding during his campaign. “It’s not the most glamorous issue, but down the line, if the decisions are right, it will move New London forward in many ways,” he said. Pero said one of the best ways to support the arts scene would be to establish a regional arts council. He said New London can take a leading role in cooperation among different communities and organizations in southeastern Connecticut, strengthening the destination value of the city and making it more attractive for state funding for the arts.
    .05  Tea party starting wants fall referendum on regional planning commission in northern Kentucky
Daily Reporter - Greenfield, IN, USA
A tea party group in northern Kentucky wants to dissolve a regional planning commission that taxes property owners in Kenton County. The Northern Kentucky Tea Party is sponsoring a petition drive to collect 18,000 signatures by Aug. 9 and put the issue on the general election ballot this fall. Kenton County property owners pay $32 per $100,000 assessed property value a year to the area planning commission. Tea party members say they don't think the commission has the legal authority to exist and are critical of its costs, "The taxpayers of Kenton County cannot afford this unique and multi-layered form of malfunctioning government," the tea party said in a May 11 statement. Former Fort Mitchell Mayor Bill Goetz, the chairman of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission, characterized the tea party's petition drive as "an ill-advised, short-sighted political move that (would) negatively impact Kenton County and its future." ...
    .06  Tea party plans campaign to stop TJPDC grant
Charlottesville Tomorrow News Center - Charlottesville, VA, USA
The Jefferson Area Tea Party plans to ask city officials to end their involvement with a federal grant that is being used to coordinate a joint review of Albemarle County and Charlottesville’s separate comprehensive plans. “Any statement that we’re making in terms of [the sustainability communities grant] … we’re certainly making it also [for] Charlottesville and the University of Virginia as well,” said Carole Thorpe, the group’s chairwoman. Local tea party members object to a $999,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that was awarded to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. ... The funding will allow the organization to coordinate the reviews of the city and county’s comprehensive plans at the same time the TJPDC updates its long-range transportation plan. For instance, the city and county planning commissions will hold several joint public hearings to collect input from citizens of both jurisdictions. ...
    .07  Environmental groups 'appalled' by TRPA bill approval
Tahoe Daily Tribune - South Lake Tahoe, CA, USA
A bill that would allow Nevada to pull out of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency if the organization does not meet certain benchmarks by October 2014 is one legislative step closer to reality. ... The Nevada Senate voted 19 to 2 Friday afternoon to approve Senate Bill 271, which now moves to the Assembly for consideration. The bill calls for the TRPA to amend the agency's regional plan to consider changing economic conditions in the Lake Tahoe Basin, eliminate super majority votes requiring four TRPA Governing Board members from each state to vote yes for certain approvals and changing the TRPA's compact to require anyone issuing a legal challenge to the regional plan to prove how the plan does not comply with the compact. The bill would withdraw the state from the TRPA if the reforms are not enacted by a Oct. 1, 2014 deadline. The legislation gives the Nevada governor the option of extending the deadline by three years. ...
    .08  Golden anniversary for Green Acres program
The Asbury Park Press - Asbuty Park, NJ, USA
The idea at the time was to head off development pressure. Yet a federal study showed that New Jersey lost a greater share of its agricultural land to development than any other state over a 25-year period through 2007. Also, joint research by Rutgers and Rowan universities reported that urban development in general accelerated in the Garden State through that period. Peter Kasabach, executive director of New Jersey Future, a nonprofit research and policy group, said conservation efforts have been compromised by weak state and regional planning. “Preservation is a key piece, but there has to be smart planning and use for the lands you’re not preserving,” Kasabach said. “Preservation and planning have to go hand-in-hand. It’s not one or the other. ... Oregon is among a handful of states to adopt growth boundaries intended to control urban expansion onto farm and forest lands, with incentives for investors to develop and redevelop land and buildings in downtown areas.  ...
    .09  What's with the 'S' word?
Burlington Free Press - Burlington, VT, USA
"Sustainability is in the eye of the beholder," said Charlie Baker, the executive director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. With that caveat, the discussion broadened and sharpened. It will re-emerge, somewhat streamlined, at a meeting in July, as well as online. Meanwhile, "sustainability" emerged from the group not as a static goal, but as a series of persistent, perennial and sometimes nagging questions. The scope of those questions is spelled out in the project's name, ECOS — an acronym for Environment, Community, Opportunity and Sustainability. Within three years, and with the help of a $1 million federal grant, ECOS will attempt to reconcile forward-looking plans from Chittenden County communities, regional utilities, businesses and nonprofit advocacy groups. ...
    .10  Gov. Christie declares regional cap-and-trade initiative ineffective, 'gimmicky' partnership - USA
Gov. Chris Christie Thursday declared the nation’s first regional cap-and-trade program designed to reduce air pollution a failure and promised to pull New Jersey out of it by the end of the year. While acknowledging humans contribute to climate change, Christie called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative a "gimmicky" partnership and said it does nothing to reduce the gases that fuel the problem. "This program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future," Christie said at a Statehouse news conference. "The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It’s a failure." Critics of the governor called the decision a calculated move to appease conservatives nationwide, who have long pressured him to ditch the program, while still appearing to be pro-environment. They say it puts Christie, a national GOP star, on the same philosophical page as many within his party. ...
    .11  Letter: Regional approach to development needed
Brighton-Pittsford Post - Brighton, NY, USA
The Greater Rochester region is developing land outward despite there being no appreciable regional population growth. The result? Severe growth pains in outer suburban and rural communities like Victor and pains of decline in the city of Rochester and inner suburbs like Irondequoit. Our region and all its parts suffer without a regional land use and development plan and process. Without regional planning, we’ll keep throwing away money on redundant housing units, office parks and retail complexes without any increase in residents, workers or shoppers. We’ll face a growing tax burden borne by the same number of taxpayers. We’ll keep chasing short-term profits without any appreciation for long-term consequences. This is a zero-sum-game, Rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul pattern that will persist until we plan for development together as a region.
    .12  Roy Exum: ‘We’ Are Charging ‘Us’ - Opinion - Chattanooga, TN, USA
I don’t know much about what the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency does, but as word comes that they may start charging fees for Hamilton County and 11 neighboring municipalities to do business with them I have a three-word solution for the RPA: “Take a hike.” The problem with that, of course, is that people in the county and those 11 towns that dot the county map all pay county taxes and it seems to me the planning agency should be part of the package. But apparently the expiring sales tax agreement between the city and the county leaves the planning agency in limbo and now the openly feuding city and county leaders want to dump some of the expenses on the smaller towns. Ain’t that swell? I’m on record as being fed up with the jockeying that now blights cooperation between the city and county governments. ... I don’t believe that’s happening right now and there should never be an “us” and a “them” inside the county line. “We” all deserve better.
    .13  YDR Opinion: Regionalism slipped a COG
The York Daily Record - York, PA, USA
Over the years there has been much discussion about York County municipalities merging with neighboring boroughs and townships. ...Often, the response from municipal leaders is: We don't need to do that because we already cooperate across municipal borders. And that's true - to an extent. We have some excellent regional police departments. ... Some have cooperated on regional land-use planning. That's all good. And we also have a York Area Council of Governments that allows municipalities to team up for special projects. But probably not for much longer. The COG is not a well-oiled machine. It has slipped a cog - or maybe just run out of gas. The group of 12 local municipalities hasn't met since 2008. Some of the group's leaders are not even elected officials in their municipalities anymore. The COG will meet May 31 to officially disband - if it can get a quorum to do so. Members said the group petered out for lack of a project to work on. Really? ...
    .14  Annual Region Ride to Take Place Saturday, June 4th - Valparaiso IN, USA
In celebration of the National Recreation Trail designation for the Lake Michigan Water Trail, the Calumet Citizens for Connecting Communities (C4) and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) will be hosting their annual Region Ride on Saturday, June 4th. The ride will commence at Oak Ridge County Park, and continue to Portage’s Lakefront Park and Riverwalk, to join with members of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association and the National Park Service for the dedication ceremony. From here, the ride will retrace the route back to Oak Ridge County Park, for a total combined distance of 36 miles.
    .15  Spring Sweep Set For Saturday
State Journal - Charleston, WV, USA
The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority is encouraging volunteers to participate in cleaning select areas of Fayette, Raleigh, Nicholas and Summers County ...  It is part of a region-wide cleanup to raise public awareness about littering. Sarah Elswick, a VISTA volunteer, is spear-heading the effort in Summers County. "Think of how you feel when you see someone throw something out the window. Know you can make a difference. And it makes you feel good when you're out there. There's tons of trash within a quarter of a mile you might pick up, you might be able to pick up one whole bag by yourself,” said Elswick. ...
    .16  Area extension service agents meet
The Natchez Democrat - Natchez, MS, USA
The Adams County Extension Service took a page from the Miss-Lou regionalism book last week when they hosted the Southwest Mississippi County Agents Association. County agents from 22 counties in southwest Mississippi, including Adams, met in Natchez for a two-day tour of some of the city’s many agricultural commodities. “This is the first year we decided to do this,” Adams County Extension Service director and association senior director David Carter said. “This is just a big area meeting where we can all discuss issues concerning our specific area.” ...
    .17  What Will 2040 Look Like?
Patch - Barrington, IL, USA
Go To 2040 Plan takes global approach toward preparing for a sustainable and prosperous future in metropolitan Chicago. Randy Blankenhorn, executive director for CMAP, is leading the first regional plan for the Chicago metropolitan area since Daniel Burnham's in 1909. ... preparing for a sustainable future requires a regional effort. Blankenhorn grew up in McHenry County. Northeastern Illinois at night. in the Go To 2040 conference, community leaders are trying to develop strategies to ensure that this region thrives and becomes more efficient. In the year 2040, the Chicago suburbs will consist of livable communities where people can walk or ride their bikes to the store. Residents will be healthier with access to trails and open space, and they’ll eat more fresh, locally produced food. The worker of 2040 will have shorter commutes and more public transportation options. And government will be more efficient with a more fair tax structure.
    .18  Hopes soar as Sacramento unveils arena proposal
Sacramento Bee - Sacramento, CA, USA
Jubilant officials emerged from a hearing at Sacramento City Hall on Thursday and proclaimed the region is further along in its quest to build a new sports and entertainment arena than it ever has been before. But the region has seen other arena efforts take shape, only to implode. The sticking point once again will be financing – how to pay for a new facility and how that cost will be divvied up between taxpayers and private sources, such as the Sacramento Kings. Arena proponents hope to hammer out those key details over the next 100 days. That's the timetable set for a yet-to-be-formed regional commission that will be tasked with developing a financing plan for a $387 million arena. ...

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