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Route 30 Master Plan

What is Smart Growth

Smart growth is development that serves the economy, the community and the environment. It changes the terms of the development debate away from the traditional growth/no growth question to "How and where should new development be accommodated?" Smart Growth answers these questions by simultaneously achieving:

  • Healthy communities -- that provide families with a clean environment. Smart growth balances development and environmental protection -- accommodating growth while preserving open space and critical habitat, reusing land, and protecting water supplies and air quality.
  • Economic development and jobs -- that create more business opportunities, local tax base improvements, provide neighborhood services and amenities, and create economically competitive communities.
  • Strong neighborhoods -- which provide a range of housing options giving people the opportunity to choose housing that best suits them. Smart growth provides the choice to walk, ride a bike, take transit, or drive. It maintains and enhances the value of existing neighborhoods and creates a sense of community.
"Building better communities and increasing economic opportunities can only occur when the entire community comes together to plan for their future. The Smart Growth Partnership is the vehicle to make this happen in Westmoreland County and I encourage all residents to play a role in improving our quality of life." Allen Kukovich

Smart growth recognizes the many benefits of growth. It invests time, attention and resources in restoring community and vitality to center cities and older suburbs. Smart growth in new developments is more town centered, is transit and pedestrian oriented, and has a greater mix of housing, commercial and retail uses. It also preserves open space and other environmental amenities. Smart growth recognizes connections between development and quality of life.

Smart Growth Principles

  1. Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
  2. Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
  3. Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration in Development Decisions
  4. Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair, and Cost Effective
  5. Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty, and Critical Environmental Areas
  6. Mix Land Uses
  7. Create a Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
  8. Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
  9. Create Walkable Neighborhoods
  10. Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices

Smart Growth Network 1996

What Are the Environmental Benefits of Smart Growth?
Analysis shows that a more balanced pattern of growth may be a tremendous benefit to the environment. Smart growth developments can reduce air and water pollution, facilitate brownfields cleanup and reuse, and preserve open space.

Air Quality -- Smart growth improves air quality by reducing automobile emissions. According to an evaluation of the environmental benefits of infill versus greenfield development, siting a new development in an existing neighborhood instead of on open space at the suburban fringe can lower vehicle miles traveled by as much as 60%. Smart growth's emphasis on developing walkable communities and providing transportation choices - like transit, walking, and biking - can also reduce air pollution by reducing auto mileage and smog-forming emissions.

Water Quality -- Smart growth, with its emphasis on compact development and open space preservation, can protect water quality by creating fewer paved surfaces; a one-acre parking lot generates 16 times more polluted stormwater runoff than a one-acre meadow. This runoff, which often contains toxic chemicals, phosphorus and nitrogen, is the second most common source of water pollution for lakes and estuaries nationwide and the third most common source for rivers.

Brownfields Redevelopment -- Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Brownfields redevelopment is an integral component to smart growth. By redeveloping a brownfield in an older city or suburban neighborhood, a community can remove blight and environmental contamination, create a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, lessen development pressure at the urban edge, and use existing infrastructure.

Open Space Preservation -- Smart Growth helps to protect farmland and open space by preserving these lands and redirecting growth to existing communities. Open space provides habitat and wildlife protection, outdoor recreation and natural water filtration to ensure clean drinking water. Open space also provides buffers along streambeds to protect water quality for many plants and animals. In addition, smart growth protects prime farm and ranchlands to ensure a healthy food supply and a high quality life for these rural settings.

More and more citizens are turning to smart growth to protect their valuable open spaces. A study for the State of New Jersey found that, compared to sprawl, planned growth could reduce the conversion of farmland by 28 percent, open space by 43 percent and environmentally fragile lands by 80 percent.

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