Regional Community Development News - June 6, 2011

1. An obituary for Florida Growth Management - St. Petersburg Times

Growth management, an imperfect but noble effort to protect Florida from selfishness and greed, died Thursday (June 2, 2011). The cause of death was legislation passed by a Legislature lacking perspective and signed into law by Rick Scott, a new governor ignorant of the state's history and indifferent about its future.

Growth Management was 26 years old. The agency that oversaw it, the now-vanquished Department of Community Affairs, is survived by a handful of relatives not up to carrying on the mission: water management districts decimated by spending cuts; regional planning councils and similar agencies with little authority; and county commissions with neither the will nor the vision to stand up to developers.

Born in 1985, Growth Management was supported in its youth by governors and legislators from both political parties who looked beyond the next election and were determined to keep Florida from strangling itself. ...

Growth Management died quietly. There were no bill-signing ceremonies or front-page headlines to mark its passing. But for Floridians who care about the future of their state, the loss is devastating.

2. State budget cuts could mean problems for Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council -

The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council expects to lose 10 percent of its budget and could cut staff, salaries or benefits next year, after Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $2.5 million from Florida's regional planning councils for 2011-12.

Scaling back the councils, which deal with development planning issues that affect multiple counties, continues a trend of growth management-related cuts by Scott and the Legislature this year aimed to give local governments more planning power.

But with less regional or state oversight, local governments could start quickly approving developments that become out of control once the economy bounces back, said Charles Pattison, president of growth management advocacy group 1000 Friends of Florida.

"What we do worry about is that as Floridians recover, we're going to have lax oversight and more approvals that will just put our quality of life at risk," Pattison said.


3. There's more than one way to join forces - The Sydney Morning Herald

A report on council consolidation warns against fixed thinking, writes Harvey Grennan.

A NEW report calls for council amalgamations and more resource sharing, particularly in metropolitan areas.

The report, Consolidation in Local Government: A Fresh Look, was the result of a joint effort by the new Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government and the local government associations of South Australia and New Zealand taking a fresh and objective look at amalgamations, boundary changes, shared services and regional collaboration.

The centre's director, Professor Graham Sansom, said the report highlighted the need for local government to embrace further change if it was to be sustainable.

'Councils should work with their communities and regional partners to determine which option will deliver the best outcome,'' he said. ''In some cases, this may lead to amalgamations or boundary changes; in others, to more regional collaboration and shared services.

4. Alleged open meeting law violations at center of lawsuit | Eastern Iowa News Now

POSTVILLE — A lawsuit alleging open meetings law violations by Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission pits the city of Postville against an agency that recently moved its headquarters from Postville to Decorah.
But that move, which has understandably rankled Postville residents, has little to do with the lawsuit, according to Postville Mayor Leigh Rekow.

“It is simply to bring to their attention that they are a public, tax-supported institution, subject to open meeting laws, and meetings need to be conducted according to these rules,” Rekow said.
Upper Explorerland Executive Director Aaron Burkes said the lawsuit has everything to do with the relocation of the agency’s headquarters.

“There is no doubt” that the lawsuit is a sour grapes response to the move, said Burkes, who called the lawsuit “nonsense” and its claims “baseless.”

The lawsuit alleges more than 50 open-meeting law violations dating back more than 10 years. Most of them involve what the plaintiffs — the city of Postville and Jason Meyer, the publisher of the Postville Herald newspaper and a member of the Postville City Council — describe as inadequate notification of commission meetings.


5. Regional Prosperity: How the Region’s Plan Can Impact the Region’s Bottom Line - TECHburgher :: Putting some sizzle in the Pittsburgh technology sector.

The region’s metropolitan planning organization (MPO), the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, is now accepting public input on the draft 2040 Transportation and Development Plan for Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Business leaders in America are increasingly focused on rationalizing regional patterns of development to more successfully spur economic prosperity and extend livability to more persons. The bottom line business case of smart growth is increasingly apparent.

Come be part of the conversation about how the region’s plan and you can help to:
- channel the pattern and character of growth and development to hasten regional sustainability that protects and enhances investments
- ensure economic growth occurs without the impacts and inefficiencies of unchecked sprawl
- promote sustainable communities
- level the field for development and redevelopment to revitalize our older urban centers
- focus on the new economic nexus of land use, transportation, housing, and transit ...

6. Transit: The 4 Percent Solution |

A new Brookings Institution report provides an unprecedented glimpse into the lack of potential for transit to make a more meaningful contribution to mobility in the nation's metropolitan areas. The report, entitled Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America, provides estimates of the percentage of jobs that can be accessed by transit in 45, 60 or 90 minutes, one-way, by residents of the 100 largest US metropolitan areas. The report is unusual in not evaluating the performance of metropolitan transit systems, but rather, as co-author Alan Berube put it, "what they are capable of." Moreover, the Brookings access indicators go well beyond analyses that presume having a bus or rail stop nearby is enough, missing the point the availability of transit does not mean that it can take you where you need to go in a reasonable period of time.

7. Proposal of turning Route 422 into toll road |

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission proposed taking 25 miles of Route 422 in Montgomery County, between King of Prussia and Pottstown, and making it into a toll road.

The proposal would charge drivers 11 cents per mile, or $2.75 each way.
Some 65,000 commuters drive on 422 between King of Prussia and Pottstown every day. Widening the road would relieve rush-hour traffic jams, but would cost millions of dollars.
The toll plan won't be happening any time soon; it would have to be approved by the commissioners in Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties, the state and federal transportation departments and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

The Planning Commission has set up a website with answers to frequently asked questions:

8. Chiefs tell Alberta Government: "Fix Lower Athabasca Regional Plan"

Chief Roxanne Marcel of the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) and Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations (ACFN) met with Alberta Government Ministers today, and told them they need to fix the draft Lower Athabasca Regional Plan.

The Alberta Government has been under criticism over oil sands development in the Lower Athabasca region. Since 2005, both ACFN and MCFN have made numerous submissions on how to improve land use planning where it affects their traditional territory. They have consistently put forward recommendations for policies and protected areas while offering to work with Government to undertake traditional resource use planning that would help set meaningful safeguards and thresholds for ecological disturbance such as for land, air and water - and help ensure Treaty and Aboriginal rights are protected for current and future generations. ...

 "There is no legal impediment to the Government of Alberta to involving First Nations more meaningfully ...

9. A Tea Party Plan to Put ‘Big Government’ on a Diet

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY - “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size,” said President Ronald Reagan.

And taxpayers in Kenton County in Northern Kentucky are about to find out: no bloated government agency goes down without a fight, either.

But if the Northern Kentucky Tea Party prevails, the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission faces significant weight loss.

Tea partiers want to gather 18,000 signatures needed to allow voters to determine whether to shrink a planning commission three times the size — and cost — of other county planning commissions in the region.

I’m betting that when voters find out that the Boone County Planning Commission staff of 15 handles 300 percent more work than the area planning staff of 42 strong – with their Cadillac benefit packages – the votes will be there.


10. TIF District Proposal Would Cross Municipal Lines - WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News

The Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, along with local and state officials, unveil a legislative proposal they hope will help grow communities.

It involves creating tax increment financing districts across municipal lines.

City officials hope the creation of these TIF districts will make funding regional development projects easier, particularly in the titletown district.

"Basically, it's a full blown inter governmental agreement that's going to allow us to do different things to promote the gateways to our community, especially Green Bay, De Pere and Ashwaubenon," says Ashwaubenon Village President Mike Aubinger.

For example, officials say it would allow the creation of a corridor along Ashland Avenue to attract development that would benefit the entire area.

"It's going to allow the municipalities to get together and say, this is the type of business we want on this corridor, this is the type of infrastructure and create an overall vision or plan for that corridor ..


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) committed $7 million to help restore contaminated land throughout Florida, officials said.

According to officials, $1 million will go to the Central Florida regional planning council to pay for several brown-field sites. Orange County is getting $400,000 and Daytona Beach will get $200,000.

WFTV learned that some of the most polluted sites may not get cleaned up for years. Officials said a little beige building was once the office of Spellman Engineering, a NASA contractor that dumped cleaning chemicals and contaminated the land with water beneath it ...

12. EPA Awards New Hampshire $1.8 Million to Restore Brownfields -

The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded New Hampshire $1.8 million dollars to restore contaminated sites..

Capital Regional Development Council, the city of Concord and the Town of Bristol are receiving the money to clean up sites contaminated by hazardous substances.

These sites, called Brownfields, will let municipalities clean up these properties and put them back on the tax rolls.

Capital Regional Development Council received the largest portion of the money – one million dollars- to create a revolving loan fund for businesses, nonprofits and state agencies.

Executive Director Stephen Heavener.

“The goal is to bring either underutilized or environmentally tainted properties back to resuse, that’s the ultimate, because our mission at CRDC is job creation and tax based enhancements.”

13. BusinessDay - Region falls behind in research

SOUTHERN Africa’s lack of investment in higher education is failing to meet the needs of the economy, and regional collaboration in scientific research is essential if we are to innovate and grow.

This is the view of the Southern African Regional Universities Association (Sarua).

In a report submitted to the biennial conference of the Association of African Universities in Stellenbosch on Thursday, Sarua called for a $100m five-year fund to increase academic collaboration between universities in the region. According to the report, Southern African universities were functioning far below optimal performance in human capital development and research output.

Piyushi Kotecha, a researcher and CEO of Sarua, said universities in Southern Africa have been weakened by poor political management, insufficient public investment and the haemorrhaging of talent to developed countries.

14. Ancient Silk Road, modern economic corridor

KUNMING, June 6 (Xinhua) -- More than six centuries after the southern Silk Road fell into disuse, China and South Asian countries hope to revive the ancient route and forge it into a robust economic corridor for trade and investment.

Chinese and South Asian traders crossed daunting mountains more than 2,000 years ago to exchange commodities such as silk, tea, ironware, jewelry and horses along the southern Silk Road from southwest China's Yunnan to Myanmar, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The route, though less well-known than the northern Silk Road, used to be an important link for trade and cultural exchanges between China and South Asia. It faded into history with the rise of maritime trade in the 15th century.
However, as trade and ties in the region continue to prosper, the ancient trade route has regained some of its former prominence.

"I'm a great supporter for the creation of a modern version of the southern Silk Road as it will create a 'win-win' economic situation," ...

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