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Smart Growth

Smart Growth Implementation Assistance for Coastal Communities

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In 2006, the National Sea Grant College Program and NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research offered small grants to Sea Grant programs that partnered with a community to help the community develop in ways that meet environmental and other community goals. In addition, EPA provided smart growth implementation assistance to the selected programs and local community partners.

These Sea Grant colleges and universities and local partners were selected from a nationwide application process. Eligible entities were Sea Grant Programs that partnered with tribal, local, regional, or state governments, and nonprofit organizations that had a demonstrated partnership with a governmental entity. EPA and NOAA organized multidisciplinary teams to provide direct technical assistance as requested by Sea Grant and the community.

This program is inactive, but the reports from the projects can be helpful to other communities facing similar issues. 

EPA also conducts a separate Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program. See summaries of projects and links to reports from the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program. Learn about other EPA smart growth technical assistance programs.

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Project Summaries

Houston, Texas

Site visit: July 11-13, 2006
To help Midtown Houston envision how to take advantage of demand for homes around its transit stations, the Gulf Coast Institute, Main Street Coalition, and Texas A&M partnered to apply for assistance. The Ensemble/HCC station area was selected as a prototype of Midtown development opportunities. The local team wanted to provide more riders for the light-rail system, create housing options for young professionals, and build strong neighborhoods.

The consultant team held a workshop to examine transit-oriented development market opportunities in Midtown and around the Ensemble/HCC station. The team suggested a conceptual development plan for transit-oriented development around the Ensemble/HCC station and discussed challenges and strategies to implement transit-oriented development in Midtown.

Funding partners: Gulf Coast Institute, Main Street Coalition, Texas A&M Sea Grant Extension, METRO, Midtown Management District, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Urban Land Institute – Houston

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Marquette, Michigan

Site visit: Dec. 15-17, 2006
Michigan Sea Grant and the city of Marquette requested assistance to help with a form-based zoning code for Marquette's Downtown Waterfront District. The community wants to attract and support vibrant, mixed-use development. The final report included a draft form-based code to help Marquette decide how to develop in the Downtown Waterfront District. Using the elements in the report, the city has developed and approved a form-based code for the district.

Funding partner: EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds

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Pamlico County, North Carolina

Site visit: Dec. 5-7, 2006
Pamlico County is a rural, estuarine, coastal county in eastern North Carolina with environmentally sensitive habitats. The county's economy is heavily agricultural and water-resource based. Pamlico County requested assistance to develop a community vision for managing the Highway 55 corridor, which was being widened, while protecting the county's character.

The EPA team identified strategies that the county could consider to facilitate development along the highway corridor while protecting the cultural and environmental resources that residents cherish and that contribute to the county's sense of place. The assistance presented development scenarios for the corridor and smart growth techniques that could be applied at the county and site levels to capture the benefits of development while protecting the county's rural heritage.

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Porter County, Indiana

Site visit: Nov. 14-15, 2006
Porter County was working to approve a Unified Development Ordinance that would be the single point of reference for land development in the county. To help ensure developers, planners, and residents would know what to expect from development, the Plan Commission sought assistance with a traditional neighborhood development design guideline to supplement the Unified Development Ordinance's text and information.

The consultant team worked with local stakeholders, developers, staff, and the public to develop the design guideline. The team produced renderings of a sample traditional neighborhood development site plan that could be built nearly anywhere in the county and developed a full description of what is expected from a developer. The report was submitted to the community as a set of elements to consider as elected officials approve the Unified Development Ordinance.

Funding and supporting partners: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Planning with Power program, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission

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Sussex County, Delaware

Site visit: Aug. 6-8, 2007
Sussex County's Atlantic Ocean beaches draw millions of visitors annually, and agriculture contributes as much to the economy as tourism. The county has seen tremendous population growth, which could threaten both tourism and agriculture if it is not planned well. Sussex County and the Sea Grant program at the University of Delaware requested assistance to help find development options that better protect water quality as the county grows.

This project gave county stakeholders a context for considering smart growth development in Sussex County. The report provided design concepts that incorporate smart growth and sustainable stormwater management approaches at the watershed, neighborhood, and site scales that the county can consider as it decides how to implement its plan for growth.

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Wells, Maine

Site visit: Sept. 18-20, 2006
Maine Sea Grant worked with the town of Wells to implement a community-supported initiative to protect the ecological integrity of a local trout stream, Depot Brook, while allowing growth and development in a proposed gateway area. The town requested assistance to find options for developing and redeveloping the Route 109 Gateway Corridor, which includes a portion of the Depot Brook riparian corridor.

The consultant team led a workshop that gathered input from Wells' residents to develop potential redevelopment designs. The team explored:

  • Stormwater management strategies that could be incorporated into different building types and land uses.
  • Transportation and parking strategies that could help improve traffic flow and provide more transportation options.
  • Possible building and land use designs for the Route 109 corridor and Wells Corner central area.

Funding partners: EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds; Maine Sea Grant​

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