Developing Probable Scenarios
Here are questions designed to help you develop a probable scenario for the future of your community. Use those that apply to you. In addition, other topics could be included, for example: crime, production of solid and hazardous waste, energy use, and volunteerism. Looking at your community assessment developed in Step 1 will help guide you on what's important to include.
- Are local businesses healthy and growing?
- Does the community encourage and nurture locally-owned and operated businesses?
- If local businesses grow, what will be the economic, environmental, and social impacts?
- Is your local budget planning based on a growing economy?
- Will polluted sites require clean-up, and will those responsible for the pollution be around to take responsibility ?
- Are there abandoned or under-utilized sites that could be redeveloped, and is there a plan for doing so?
- Is land with appropriate infrastructure available for new businesses?
- Are existing sources of economic activity protected? For example, do senior citizens stay in the community because of the desirable quality of life and the availability of suitable housing? Are farmers assured of the right to farm, unhampered by conflicts with suburban development?
- Is the shopping area attractive?
- Is the average education level in your community increasing or decreasing? Is the right mix of skills available for jobs?
- How does your community compare to neighboring communities economically? Are you working with them cooperatively?
- Are industries located near sensitive habitats, and are the businesses likely to want to expand into those areas?
- Have you inventoried existing wetlands?
- Have you evaluated the benefits provided by the wetlands in terms of recreation, water supply, flood control, and pollution abatement?
- Will growth potentially affect the wetlands, and in what time frame?
- What changes are occurring in the watershed upstream? Will these changes affect your streams and wetlands?
- How do existing regulations affect your wetlands?
- Are management practices on nearby parking lots, buildings, and fields harming wetlands?
- Do people in the watershed understand the value of wetlands? Do they see a need to protect them?
- Might any degraded wetlands be restored?
- Are floods a problem in your area? If so, is the problem getting worse or better?
- What are the factors causing more or less flooding?
- Will structural works be required to prevent flood damage?
- Who will pay for flood control?
- Is development in the floodplain increasing? Is it allowed under current laws?
- How does new development manage stormwater? Is there a plan for long-term maintenance of stormwater facilities?
- Does flooding pose a risk to peoples' homes and lives?
- Have wetlands been filled or drained in your stream corridor?
- Is native vegetation being converted to lawns?
- Is impervious cover (streets, parking lots, rooftops, etc.) increasing?
- Does your local zoning allow for a variety of housing types?
- Will affordable housing be available for everyone in your area, including those on fixed incomes or low-income families?
- What happens to abandoned houses?
- Do current codes allow for in-home businesses?
- Does new construction incorporate energy-saving features?
- Is senior citizen housing and housing for those with disabilities available?
- Does housing allow easy access to public transit, recreation, and services so that people do not need to drive everywhere? Are growth areas planned so that they will be accessible?
- Will new houses be built with connections to wastewater treatment facilities or in soils that can accommodate on-site septic systems?
- Will new housing developments have stormwater management systems that control runoff adequately? Will new developments cause flooding downstream?
- Does your zoning and subdivision ordinance require that meaningful open space (more than just wetlands and steep slopes) be protected?
Transportation and traffic safety
- Is traffic congestion increasing?
- Does it take longer to get to work and run errands because of heavy traffic?
- Are traffic accidents increasing? Are there high accident areas?
- Is new development planned? If so, how will it affect traffic?
- Are new subdivisions designed with road connections to other subdivisions, so that it isn't necessary to get on a major artery to go everywhere?
- Are drivers using residential streets as arteries? Does fast-moving traffic on residential streets create a safety hazard? Is this condition likely to develop due to growth?
- Are roads biker friendly?
- Are new roads planned? If so, has the impact of that road on development patterns been considered? How about effects on streams, wetlands, and groundwater?
- Are people able to walk, bike, or take public transit to schools, parks, shopping areas and recreation centers?
- Do sidewalks, greenways, and trails connect all parts of your community?
- Are there efforts to reduce commuting time and distance?
- Is affordable and convenient public transit available to allow those who don't drive to get around easily for shopping, work, education, and health care?
- Is new development, both residential and commercial, designed to encourage walking and the use of public transit? Are benches available for those who might need them?
- Is adequate parking available for residents and businesses?
- Is the air quality in your community getting better or worse?
- How many hospital visits (asthma, emphysema, and other diseases) are related to poor air quality?
- Are odors a problem?
- Are trees, surface water, buildings, statues, etc. being damaged by acid rain?
- Have air emissions by large companies been increasing or decreasing?
- Do smaller pollution sources such as dry cleaners and wood burning fireplaces add significantly to the pollution?
- How will an increasing number of cars affect air quality?
Racial and ethnic harmony
- Does your community include a diverse mixture of people?
- Do people of different races and ethnic groups feel welcome?
- Are various racial and ethnic groups integrated into the business, recreational, social, and spiritual life of the community?
- Do all groups use community facilities?
- In the event of friction among groups, does the community tend to address the problem directly, or ignore it?
- As the population grows, is the amount of protected open space increasing to meet the needs of the new residents? Is open space accessible to the public?
- Is your community aware of the need to protect a network of habitat and greenways in order to support a diverse population of plants and animals? Does your planning and zoning create such a network?
- Is there a good balance of passive (views, wilderness, walking trails) and active (playing fields, picnic sites) open space?
- Is open space managed to protect the environment using practices such as integrated pest management, streamside buffers, and composting of waste?
- Is the open space handicapped-accessible?
- Is open space well-distributed throughout the community so that everyone can enjoy it?
- Is the setting aside of open space as part of new developments encouraged or required?
- Are there efforts to preserve farmland through tax incentives, etc.?
- Does open space in your community link up with that in neighboring communities?
- Is water quality in your local streams getting better or worse? What is causing the changes? Are the streams likely to continue to be able to support wildlife?
- Are there places to fish? Can the fish be eaten or is it contaminated? Have there been any fish kills?
- Are there places where streams are diverted to pipes or channelized? Could these areas be restored to natural stream beds?
- Is the appearance of your streams changing? Are they eroding, filling in, becoming shallower or deeper, muddier or clearer?
- Do vegetated buffers that help slow runoff line the streams ?
- Are the banks shaded? If not, is the water so warm that it harms stream life?
- Where are the discharges to your streams? What materials are discharged? Are discharges increasing or decreasing?
- Is there an adequate amount of water in streams all year round to support life, or does the stream flood during rain periods and then dry up?
- Is water being diverted from your local watershed to other watersheds for irrigation, drinking water, or industrial use?
- Is the supply of drinking water adequate? Are programs in place to protect the quantity and quality of drinking water for future generations?
- Are there times of the year when discharges from sewage treatment plants are the major source of flow in streams?
- Is an adequate supply of groundwater available for industrial use?
- Is the rate of groundwater recharge sufficient for the foreseeable future or is water being diverted into roads and storm sewers without being allowed to sink into the soil?
- Are wellhead protection areas established? (These efforts prevent contamination of community water systems which use ground water wells as their source.)
Infrastructure (roads, sewage treatment plants, water, public transit, stormwater facilities, community services, schools)
- Is the right mix of infrastructure in place for desired growth?
- Is infrastructure available, but underutilized, either in newly developing areas or in older areas?
- What major repairs and upgrades are expected to be needed in the future?
- Are taxes increasing or decreasing, and how are they related to the cost of maintaining infrastructure?
- How do trends in development, population growth, and open space relate to infrastructure demand and taxes?
- Is infrastructure being planned with concern for environmental and social impacts?
- Are alternative methods being built into the planning process? Examples would be land treatment of sewage effluent and use of constructed wetlands for stormwater management.