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EPA-NOAA Smart Growth Implementation Assistance for Coastal Communities


Background

In 2006, the National Sea Grant College Program in 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, the Development, Community, and Environment Division (now the Office of Sustainable Communities) in U.S. EPA's Office of Policy Economics and Innovation (now the Office of Policy) provided smart growth implementation assistance to the selected applicants and local community partners. 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.

These Sea Grant colleges and universities and local partners were selected from a nationwide application process. EPA and NOAA organized multi-disciplinary teams to provide direct technical assistance as specified by Sea Grant and the community.

The Request for Applications (RFA) is closed. We are not currently planning another RFA for this program. If there is a new RFA, it will be announced on the EPA Smart Growth Web site.

For more information on the partnership between EPA and NOAA, please see our page on the agencies' memorandum of agreement.

EPA also conducts a separate Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program. Click here for reports from the SGIA program.

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Houston, Texas

Site visit: July 11-13, 2006
Based on Houston's expected expansion of its light-rail system, current demographics around the light-rail stations, and projected household changes, estimates show that the demand for homes in Houston within half a mile of a transit station will grow from the current level of about 12,000 to over 166,000 by 2030. To help Midtown Houston envision how to take advantage of its transit stations, the Gulf Coast Institute, Main Street Coalition, and Texas A&M partnered to apply to the EPA-NOAA assistance program.

The Ensemble/HCC station area was selected as a prototype of Midtown development opportunities. The local team's goals in requesting assistance included:

The consultant team worked with the workshop participants 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 (TOD) around the Ensemble/HCC station and discussed challenges and strategies necessary to implement TOD 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

For more information, email smartgrowth@epa.gov.

Report: Building Houston's Competitive Edge: Transit-Oriented Development for the Ensemble/HCC Station (PDF) (71 pp, 2.6 MB, About PDF)

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Marquette, Michigan

Site visit: Dec. 15-17, 2006
Michigan Sea Grant and the city of Marquette requested EPA-NOAA assistance to help with the process of writing elements for a form-based zoning code for Marquette's Downtown Waterfront District. The community's goal is to attract and support diverse, mixed-use, and vibrant development. The consultant team of nationally recognized experts in form-based codes engaged stakeholders in discussing important elements of the waterfront district and design elements relevant to the community's development goals. The final report includes a draft form-based code to help the local team and Marquette leadership in their decisions about development in the Downtown Waterfront District. Using the elements provided in the report, the city of Marquette has developed and approved a form-based code for the Downtown Waterfront District.

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

EPA project manager: Brett Van Akkeren (202-566-2865, vanakkeren.brett@epa.gov)

Report: Downtown Waterfront Form-Based Code Workshop (PDF) (95 pp., 4.3 MB, About PDF)

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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. The county's economy is heavily agricultural and water-resource based. It contains environmentally sensitive habitats that are vulnerable to new and unplanned development. The county's major transportation artery, Highway 55, is being widened from two lanes to five lanes from the county line to Bayboro. Pamlico County requested assistance to develop a community vision for managing the Highway 55 corridor while protecting the county's character.

The technical assistance team provided Pamlico County and associated municipalities with smart growth options to address the development issues that the Highway 55 corridor enhancement project could raise. The project identified strategies, including context-sensitive design and access management, that the county could consider to facilitate development along the highway corridor while protecting the cultural and environmental resources that residents cherish and contributing to the county's sense of place. The assistance educated participants about environmentally sound development practices, presented development scenarios for the corridor, and shared smart growth techniques that can be applied at the county and site levels to capture the benefits of development while protecting the county's rural heritage.

For more information, email smartgrowth@epa.gov.

Report: Retaining Our Sense of Place by Managing Our Highway (PDF) (115 pp., 7 MB, About PDF)

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Porter County, Indiana

Site visit: Nov. 14-15, 2006
As Porter County worked to approve a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) that would serve as the single point of reference for land development within the county, the Plan Commission determined that the Traditional Subdivision section would benefit from some additional explanation so that developers, planners, and citizens would have a clear idea of what to expect from development. The Plan Commission director sought EPA and NOAA's assistance to write a traditional neighborhood development (TND) design guideline that can supplement the text and information in the UDO.

Over the course of two days, EPA and its consultants worked with local stakeholders, developers, staff, and the public to understand what TND would mean in the county. The design guideline would focus on: building types, open space types, street types, requirements for regulating plans, block configurations, and street layout. Through various work sessions and interaction with key stakeholders, the EPA team created proposed code updates to the unified development ordinance, based on the existing communities and their specifications. The EPA team produced renderings of a sample TND site plan that could built nearly anywhere in the county. Accompanying the renderings was a full description of what is expected from a developer, including parameters for street length and width, setbacks, open space, a mix of uses, and the housing types appropriate for this kind of development. The team's report was submitted to the community as a set of elements to consider as the elected officials approve the UDO.

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

EPA project manager: Kevin Nelson (202-566-2835, nelson.kevin@epa.gov)

Report: Building the Comprehensive Community: Traditional Neighborhood Development for Porter County, Indiana (PDF) (43 pp, 1.2 MB, About PDF)

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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 appeal of the coast and the countryside has brought 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 worked together to request assistance from EPA and NOAA to help find options for development that will better protect water quality as the county grows. This project will give county stakeholders a context for considering smart growth development in Sussex County, and will provide design concepts that incorporate smart growth and sustainable stormwater management approaches, addressing development at the watershed, neighborhood, and site scales, that the county can consider as it decides how to implement its plan for growth.

EPA project manager: Megan Susman (202-566-2861, susman.megan@epa.gov)

Report: Protecting Water Quality With Smart Growth Strategies and Natural Stormwater Management in Sussex County, Delaware (PDF) (119pp., 10.8 MB,About PDF)

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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 current ecological integrity of a local trout stream, Depot Brook, while also allowing for growth and development within a proposed gateway area of Wells. The town requested technical assistance to help find options for developing and redeveloping the Rt. 109 Gateway Corridor, from the I-95 intersection (Transportation Center) to Rt. 1 in the town's central area, which includes a portion of the riparian corridor of Depot Brook.

The EPA team put together a design workshop to:

The design workshop gathered input from Wells' residents about what they wanted for their town. This input helped provide the basis for possible redevelopment designs around Wells Corner. Ideas developed in response include creating a pedestrian district, better connecting walking and biking paths, creating a new park around Depot Brook in the downtown area, and improving traffic flow through better connected streets and more transportation options.

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

EPA project manager: Lynn Richards (202-566-2858, richards.lynn@epa.gov)

Report: How Can Wells Grow and Protect Depot Brook? (PDF) (49 pp, 3.2 MB, About PDF)
Report Appendices (PDF) (21 pp, 1.7 MB, About PDF)

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