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Planning and Land Use

What is Planning for Sustainable Communities?  It is an approach to community planning that infuses the ideas and issues of sustainability into a planning process and into a community and/or comprehensive plan, which includes land use.  The foundations of current land use practices from historical, constitutional, economic, ecological, and societal perspectives are reviewed and alternative methods are suggested for managing growth and development.

| Planning | Land Use | Zoning | Smart Growth |


  • The American Planning Association
    The website of The American Planning Association with essential planning information that's easy to find.

  • CLUE: Creating Livable Communities
    Center for Land Use Education has developed important information regarding creating livable communities as an economic development strategy.

  • Sustainability Tools for Extension
    A database of sustainability teaching tools available online on the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.

  • Partnership for Sustainable Communities
    On June 16, 2009, EPA joined with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to help improve access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment in communities nationwide. Through a set of guiding livability principles and a partnership agreement that will guide the agencies' efforts, this partnership will coordinate federal housing, transportation, and other infrastructure investments to protect the environment, promote equitable development, and help to address the challenges of climate change.

  • Toolkit for Sustainable Small Town Strategy
    The tool kit provided at this website can be read in or out of sequence and will give readers a better understanding of Whole Town Strategy, Economy, Social and Environmental aspects of small town planning and management.

  • HUDs Sustainable Communities Resource Center
    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has a web site dedicated to sustainability. Sign up for sustainable community eNews, and find a variety of resources including Rural, Tribal and Small Town Sustainability, Economic Competitiveness, Regional Planning, Green Building, Healthy Communities and Housing and Transportation Choices.

  • Green Communities Research Center
    A website by the American Planning Association that focuses on research related to green community planning, such as climate change, energy, land conservation, urban forestry, sustainable economic development, green infrastructure, and watershed protection. Information available includes research on best practices for planning green communities; outreach to increase awareness of issues related to green communities; education such as workshops, seminars and other opportunities; policy relevant research, policy guides and advocates for public policy that supports good planning; resources – policy guides, reports and publications.

  • ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
    ICLEI USA is the leading membership association of cities & counties committed to climate action, clean energy, and sustainability.

  • Green Towns
    Green Towns supports a network of 15,000 sustainable communities. The web site presents inspiring green initiatives, share questions, expertise and support and help grow sustainable communities.

  • HUDs Sustainable Communities Resource Center
    The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has a web site dedicated to sustainability. Sign up for sustainable community eNews, and find a variety of resources including Rural, Tribal and Small Town Sustainability, Economic Competitiveness, Regional Planning, Green Building, Healthy Communities and Housing and Transportation Choices.

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Land Use

  • Lake Superior Watershed Rural Property Guide
    The Lake Superior Watershed Rural Property Guide can help answer questions about many issues related to rural property management such as testing drinking wells, maintaining septic systems, and safely disposing of household hazardous materials.

  • Center for Land Use Education (CLUE)
    CLUE creates learning opportunities for communities to help them make sound land use decisions that result in a sustainable Wisconsin. Resources include publications on various planning topics, workshops, and projects.

  • CLUE: Working Lands
    The University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection partnered to host a series of one-day educational workshops focused on sustaining Wisconsin’s working lands.

  • CLUE: Land Use Tracker with various related articles
    The electronic newsletter of the Center for Land Use Education (CLUE) with various related articles.

  • Sustainable Cities Institute of the National League of Cities
    A useful web site with information ranging from traditional land use approaches, environmental challenges of municipal land use, sustainability principles and strategies. The site also has information on green infrastructures for stormwater, new urbanism, smart growth, transit, zoning and sustainable land use, public spaces, Brownfield redevelopment and many more exciting topics.

  • Conservation Easements
    Conservation easements are a voluntary way to limit development. This web site from the Little Traverse Conservancy explains conservation easements.

  • The Nature Conservancy Conservation Easements
    The Nature Conservancy protects land with conservation easements.

  • Land Trust Alliance
    The Land Trust Alliance’s information on Conservation Easements includes: Benefits from land conservation, farm and ranch land conservation, economic benefits, additional conservation methods, how to donate an easement and more.

  • Smart Communities Network
    This web page is dedicated to Land Use Planning including key principles, strategies, civic participation, tools, success stories, codes and ordinances, publications and educational materials.

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  • "Sustainable Community Development Code Reform" Initiative
    The Sturm College of Law, University of Denver site on sustainable Community Development & Zoning with downloadable beta zoning codes, and A LOT of other resources.

  • City of Madison; Zoning Code Rewrite
    This site contains updates on the City of Madison's zoning code rewrite process, which began in January 2008 and is slated to run through July 2010. The site contains agendas and minutes from the Zoning Code Rewrite Advisory Committee meetings, copies of all materials generated during the process, and other information for the public about the process.

  • Sustainable Cities Institute of the National League of Cities
    This page defines the traditional types of zoning used by local governments.

  • Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute
    Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute publication titled: Saving the World Through Zoning: Sustainable Community Development Code Reform Project. This is a 31 page PDF.

  • Smart Code
    The SmartCode is a model transect-based planning and zoning document based on environmental analysis. It addresses all scales of planning, from the region to the community to the block and building. The template is intended for local calibration to a town or neighborhood.

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Smart Growth

  • Smart Growth  EPA
    The US EPA’s web site on smart growth.

  • Smart Growth America
    Provides information, case stories and policies related to Smart Growth.

  • Smart Growth - Natural Resource Defense Council
    Natural Resource Defense Council. Includes information on LEED projects, green building, walkable and bikeable communities, and provides the California Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act.

  • Citizen's Guide to LEED
    A Citizen's Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development: How to Tell if Development is Smart and Green. A 44 page PDF from the Natural Resource Defense Council.

  • A Local Government Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development
    The purpose of this guide is to explore one tool in particular – the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating system – focusing specifically on the ways it can be best used by local governments to achieve sustainability goals.

  • Local Planners Catalog of LEED-ND Measures
    March 2012. This catalog reorganizes the ND rating system into a local plan/code framework more familiar to planners than the standard LEED taxonomy. This publication is not for those planners and practitioners first becoming acquainted with the principles of green neighborhood development but, rather, for those who are looking for specific policy language to support the kind of development encouraged by LEED-ND.

  • Smart Growth Best Practices
    A 24 page PDF from Idaho Smart Growth.

  • Before and after examples of Smart Growth
    Sierra Club web page that shows before and after examples of communities that transformed through Smart Growth.

  • Seven Principles of Smart Growth
    A 9 page PDF with examples from the Sacramento Region.

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