Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook

Chapter 6 (part 2): Regional Planning

6-201 Preparation of Regional Comprehensive Plan (Two Alternatives)

Alternative 1 — Regional Comprehensive Plan as an Advisory Document

(1) A [regional planning agency] shall, with the involvement of the region's local governments, special districts, and citizens, prepare and adopt, and may, from time to time, amend a regional comprehensive plan.

(2) The purpose of the regional comprehensive plan is to guide the coordinated, orderly, and harmonious development of the region and to advise the [regional planning agency], the region's local governments, and special districts in the performance of their functions and duties as to extra-jurisdictional and regional interests and issues.

(3) In preparing the regional comprehensive plan, the [regional planning agency] shall undertake supporting studies that are relevant to topical areas included in the plan. In undertaking these studies, the [regional planning agency] may use studies conducted by others. The supporting studies shall concern the future growth of the region, including, but not limited to:

(a) population and population distribution of the region and local governments within the region, which may include projections and analyses by age, education level, income, employment, or other appropriate characteristics;

(b) natural resources, which may include air, water, open spaces, scenic corridors and viewsheds, forests, soils, rivers and other waters, shorelines, fisheries, wildlife, and minerals;

(c) the economy of the region, which may include amount, type, general location, and distribution of commerce and industry within the region, the location of regional employment centers, and trends and projections of economic activity;

(d) amount, type, quality, affordability, and geographic distribution of housing among local governments in the region;

(e) general location and extent of existing or currently planned major transportation facilities of all modes, and utility, educational, recreational, cultural, and other facilities of statewide or regional significance;

(f) geology, ecology, and other physical factors of the region, including land areas in the region subject to natural hazards;

(g) the identification of features of significant statewide or regional architectural, scenic, cultural, historical, or archaeological interest;

(h) amount, type, location, and quality of agricultural lands; and

(i) amount, type, and general location of industrial, commercial, residential, and other land uses.

(4) In preparing the regional comprehensive plan, the [regional planning agency] shall take into account adopted plans of state, regional, and other agencies (including special districts), and of local governments within the region.

(5) The regional comprehensive plan may consist of text, maps, plats, graphs, and charts that shall show the [regional planning agency]'s goals, policies, guidelines, and recommendations to guide the physical development of the region. It may include, but shall not be limited to:

(a) the general location, character, and extent of main highways and expressways, bridges, and viaducts; parks; parkways; recreation areas; sites for public buildings, structures, and other public places and areas; airports; waterways; routes or sites for public transit, including multi-modal facilities; and main and interceptor sewers, water conduits, and other public utilities, whether privately or publicly owned;

(b) the general location of land areas subject to natural hazards or containing historic or scenic resources;

(c) areas for industrial, commercial, residential, agricultural, and other land uses; and

(d) a long-range program for implementing the plan's recommendations, including estimates of costs, identification of responsibilities by local governments or other governmental agencies, proposals for legislation, and other relevant measures.

Alternative 2 — Regional Comprehensive Plan as a Document to Integrate State, Regional, and Local Interests

(1) The [regional planning agency] shall, with the involvement of the region's local governments, special districts, and citizens, prepare and adopt, and update and amend, at least every [5 or 10] years, a regional comprehensive plan. The regional comprehensive plan shall be consistent with the state comprehensive plan, the state land development plan [and the state biodiversity conservation plan].

(2) The purposes of the regional comprehensive plan are to:

(a) provide a mechanism by which the goals, policies, and guidelines in the state [name of plan] are interpreted and applied to the region and its local governments;

(b) provide a coordinating regional framework for local comprehensive planning and planning by special districts in the region;

(c) take into account adopted plans of local government to the extent that they affect state, extra-jurisdictional, or regional interests; [and]

(d) provide a unified physical design for the development of the region[. or ;]

— The following provisions, from Paragraphs (2)(e) to (2)(n), are optional as they contain statements regarding desired regional development form, or particular interests to be addressed or protected. Such statements may instead be addressed in the goals and policies of the regional comprehensive plan itself.

[(e) encourage a pattern of compact and contiguous growth to be guided into urban and rural growth centers [designated in accordance with the goals, policies, and guidelines in the state land development plan];]

[(f) direct growth to where infrastructure capacity is available or committed to be available in the future;]

[(g) support development patterns that discourage long-distance, single-occupant automobile commuting and encourage transit or other nonautomobile-oriented transportation;]

[(h) ensure the availability of housing with a range of types and affordability to accommodate persons and families of all income levels and in locations that are convenient to employment and quality public and private facilities;]

[(i) promote the development of new employment in areas that are convenient to existing housing and public transportation facilities;]

[(j) protect agricultural lands;]

[(k) conserve and manage natural resources, living and non-living, and the mineral resources base;]

[(l) conserve features of significant statewide or regional architectural, scenic, cultural, historical, or archaeological interest;]

[(m) ensure the adequate provision of employment opportunities and the economic health of the region; and]

[(n) protect life and property from the effects of natural hazards and disasters.]

(3) In preparing the regional comprehensive plan, the [regional planning agency] shall undertake supporting studies that are relevant to topical areas included in the plan. In undertaking these studies, the [regional planning agency] may use studies conducted by others. The supporting studies shall concern the future growth of the region, including, but not limited to:

— Include language from Alternative 1, Section (3), but substitute the following for subparagraphs (a), (c), and (i):

(a) population and population distribution of the region and local governments within the region, which may include analyses by age, household size, education level, income, employment, or other appropriate characteristics, and which shall include [20]-year projections by [5]-year increments;

. . .

(c) the economy of the region, which may include amount, type, general location, and distribution of commerce and industry within the region, the location of regional employment centers, and which shall include analyses of trends and projections of economic activity;

. . .

(i) the amount, type, intensity or density, and general location within the region of various types of land uses and [20]-year projections of land uses for the region and for local governments located in the region by [5]-year increments. Such forecasts of land uses shall be divided into categories of intensity and net density, and shall be allocated, as appropriate, to urban growth areas as defined in Section [6-402(2)(a)].

(4) In preparing the regional comprehensive plan and any amendments to it, the [regional planning agency] shall take account of and shall seek to harmonize the needs of the region as a whole, the adopted comprehensive plans of local governments, adopted functional plans of other governmental agencies in the region, and the adopted plans of the state.

(5) The regional comprehensive plan shall provide for, address, and include, but need not be limited to the following:

(a) a statement of the economic, demographic, and related assumptions used and alternative assumptions considered and rejected in the preparation of the regional comprehensive plan;

(b) a statement of the relationship of the regional comprehensive plan to the state [insert name of plan] and to adopted comprehensive plans of local governments in the region;

(c) a statement, with supporting analysis, of regional goals, policies, and guidelines for the following:

1. urbanization and management of the urban growth area;

2. housing, including minimum net housing densities;

3. transportation for all modes;

4. regional public facilities, utilities, and services, excluding transportation;

5. conservation and protection of the region's critical natural (both living and non-living), historic, and scenic resources;

6. agriculture;

7. economic development;

8. natural hazards and disasters, including measures or proposals to mitigate the effects of natural hazards and disasters;

9. human and social services; and

10. any other goals, policies, and guidelines deemed appropriate and important by the [regional planning agency].

(d) an identification, with supporting analysis, of lands within the region that may be appropriate for nomination as areas of critical state concern pursuant to Section [5-204];

[(e) a regional fair-share allocation plan as described in Section [4-208.8, Alternative 1B];]

(f) a statement describing [a hierarchy of] urban and rural growth centers in the region;

(g) a regional comprehensive plan map that shows:

1. urban growth area boundaries as defined in Section [6-402(2)(b)] for the region to permit the urbanization of the region at appropriate minimum land-use net densities and intensities [as specified in the state land development plan] for a period of not less than [20] years and to provide for urban services as defined in Section [6-402(2)(c)];

2. existing and proposed transportation and other public facilities and utilities of extra-jurisdictional or regionwide significance;

3. areas within the region that may be appropriate for nomination as areas of critical state concern pursuant to Section [5-204];

4. areas within the region subject to natural hazards;

5. [a hierarchy of] urban and rural growth centers; and

6. any other matters of regional significance that can be graphically represented.

(h) a long-range program of implementation for the regional comprehensive plan that includes:

1. a [20]-year schedule of proposed transportation and other public facilities and utilities of extra-jurisdictional or regionwide significance. The schedule shall include a description of the proposed public facility or utility, an identification of the governmental unit to be responsible for the facility or utility, the year(s) the facility or utility is proposed for construction or installation, an estimate of costs, and sources of public and private revenue for covering such costs;

2. proposed development criteria to be incorporated into plans of local governments and special districts and performance standards to measure the achievement of the regional comprehensive plan by local governments and special districts;

3. a statement of the criteria and procedures that the [regional planning agency] will use in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the plan by local governments, special districts, and the state;

4. a statement of measures describing the ways in which state and/or local programs may best be coordinated to promote the goals and policies of the regional comprehensive plan;

[5. proposals for model ordinances and agreements that may be enacted by local governments and special districts; and]

[6. recommendations for further legislation at the state or local levels as may be necessary to fully implement the regional comprehensive plan.]


Commentary: Urban Growth Areas

Urban growth areas are a regional land-use planning tool used to influence the spatial structure or pattern of development within a region and communities within it. The Legislative Guidebook introduces the concept of an urban growth area boundary in Section 6-201, Alternative 2. In addition this Chapter contains an extensive research note on the mechanics of urban growth area boundaries and regional planning. The note also discusses the manner by which land-use needs may be projected and areas for future urban growth may be selected. Finally, the materials in this Section require the adoption of a land market monitoring system, including an ongoing process to evaluate amendments to the urban growth area. These topics are discussed in Section 7-204.1, Land Market Monitoring System.

What is the Purpose of Urban Growth Areas and Who Has Them?

Urban growth areas are devices to achieve or ensure urban containment by promoting compact and contiguous development patterns. These are patterns that can be efficiently served by public services and that preserve open space, agricultural land, and environmentally sensitive areas that may not be suitable for intensive development. Several states now either require or authorize urban growth area planning in various ways.

Oregon. Oregon's statewide planning program requires all cities in the state to establish in their local comprehensive plans urban growth boundaries to "identify and separate urbanizable land from rural land" for a 20-year planning period. The boundaries are drawn and amended based on a series of factors in the state's adopted planning goals that relate to urbanization.[69] The state's housing goals require that buildable lands — lands in urban and urbanizable areas that are suitable, available, and necessary for residential use — must be inventoried. Local plans "shall encourage the availability of adequate numbers of needed housing units at price ranges and rent levels which are commensurate with the financial capabilities of Oregon households and allow for flexibility of housing location, type and density."[70]

Washington. In Washington, all counties that are either required or choose to plan under the state statutes (the Growth Management Act) must designate urban growth areas within their comprehensive plans.[71] Under the statute, an urban growth area is one "within which urban growth shall be encouraged and outside of which growth can occur only if it is not urban in nature. Each city that is located in such a county shall be included in an urban growth area. An urban growth area may include more than a single city. . . "[72] Like Oregon, the Washington statute requires that the growth area include densities and land areas sufficient to accommodate urban growth for the succeeding 20-year period.

Maine. Maine requires local comprehensive plans to identify both growth areas ("those areas suitable for orderly residential, commercial and industrial development forecast over the next 10 years") and rural areas ("those areas where protection should be provided for agricultural, forest, open space, and scenic lands within the municipality").[73] The statute requires each municipality to establish for the growth areas standards and timely permitting procedures and to ensure that needed public services are available.

Minnesota. Minnesota, in its voluntary "Community-Based Planning" statute, authorizes the designation of urban growth areas in a city or county comprehensive plan. The statute describes an urban growth area as "the identified area around an urban area within which there is a sufficient supply of developable land for at least a prospective 20-year period, based on demographic forecasts[74] and the time reasonably required to effectively provide municipal services to the identified areas." The statute requires that, after an urban growth area has been identified in a city or county plan, the city must initiate a negotiation process, in coordination with the county, that leads to "an orderly annexation agreement with the townships containing the affected unincorporated lands located within the identified urban growth area."[75]

Maryland. In 1997, Maryland passed a "Smart Growth" act[76] aimed at directing new development into "priority funding areas" that are automatically designated in the statute or may be designated by a county at its own initiative. The county-designated areas must meet specified use, water and sewer service, and residential density criteria. Under the statute, the state will give priority in funding projects with state money in these growth areas as well as existing municipalities and industrial areas. Beginning October 1, 1998, the state is prohibited from funding "growth-related" projects not located in these priority growth areas. State funding is also restricted for projects in communities without sewer systems and in rural villages. The intention is, of course, to channel state monies into areas that are suited for growth and limit development in rural areas by not extending sewers or making transportation improvements that would spur growth. In this way, conversion of rural and agricultural lands to urban uses is slowed, or at least actively discouraged through state policy.

In contrast to the other statutes, the Maryland program is incentive-based. The statute does not restrict the location of private sector or county development, only commitment of state funds. However, because it deals with minimum density requirements and public water and sewer service to support development, it is a form of urban growth area planning.

Tennessee. In 1998, Tennessee enacted a statute whose purpose is to create a "comprehensive growth policy for the state" that incorporates the designation of urban growth boundaries for municipalities and planned growth areas for unincorporated areas.[77] The statute establishes in each county a coordinating committee consisting of representatives of the county, municipalities, utilities, boards of education, and chamber of commerce.[78] In the alternative, if the population of the largest municipality in the county is at least 60 percent of the county population, the coordinating committee may be the county planning commission and the local planning commission of that municipality.[79] Each committee must develop a growth plan for its county by January 1, 2000, including, with recommendations from the municipalities, urban growth boundaries for each municipality in the county.[80] The proposed growth plan must first undergo at least two public hearings after due notice, and does not take effect unless ratified by the county legislative body and by the individual municipalities.[81]

If the county or any municipality rejects the proposed growth plan, it must state its reasons for rejection and the coordinating committee must reconsider its decision.[82] If a county or municipality declares that there is an impasse in the ratification process, the Secretary of State appoints a three-member dispute resolution panel.[83] The panel can impose a growth plan if its recommended solutions are rejected, and the cost of the dispute resolution process can be assessed against a party acting in bad faith or putting forth frivolous objections.[84] Judicial review of the urban growth boundary by the county chancery court is available to any landowner or resident of the county, as well as to the county and municipalities, and the review is a de novo review in which the challenger must show by preponderance that the growth plan is "arbitrary, capricious, illegal, or ... characterized by an abuse of official discretion."[85] All such reviews commenced against the same proposed growth plan must be consolidated in a single civil action.[86]

Once a growth plan is ratified, all land use decisions must be consistent with the plan.[87] A growth plan stays in effect for up to three years, absent a showing of "extraordinary circumstances."[88] The plan must indicate urban growth boundaries, planned growth areas, and rural areas.[89] An urban growth boundary must encompass the contiguous territory of a municipality, an area sufficient for 20 years of predicted growth, and territory in which the municipality is better able to provide urban services than other municipalities.[90] It must be based on population growth projections, a projection of infrastructure costs, and a land-demand projection.[91] At least two public hearings must be held before an urban growth boundary can be ratified.[92] The county can create planned growth areas, which are similar to areas inside urban growth boundaries and are subject to the same requirements, except that planned growth areas must be outside any urban growth boundary and any municipality.[93] Any territory that is not within an urban growth boundary or planned growth area can be designated as a rural area, which is intended to be used for the next 20 years for agriculture, forestry, wildlife preservation, recreation, or other low-density uses.[94]

After a municipality has an urban growth boundary in place, it can annex only territory within that boundary, but the municipality is expressly authorized to amend the UGB, under the same procedure as the enactment of a growth plan, to include the territory that is to be annexed.[95] New municipalities can be created only in planned growth areas, and the county must approve the municipal borders and urban growth boundary before any vote on incorporation can be held.[96]

Other. In addition to these state-authorized efforts there have been local initiatives of various types in California, Colorado, and Florida.[97] Since 1959, the City of Boulder, Colorado, has had some form of urban service area — lines containing the limits of various types of urban services that take into account the desired service level and available funding. Boulder's program, administered jointly with Boulder County, has incorporated annual limitations on the number of building permits issued for residential use, a technique intended to control its rate of growth.[98] Boulder's planning director, Peter Pollock, AICP, has described the urban service area concept there as defining "that part of the Boulder planning area where the City of Boulder already provides a full range of urban services or will provide services upon annexation. Land outside of the service area boundary remains in the county at rural densities until the city and county joint agree to bring the property into the service. Land can also be 'moved' out of the service area."[99]

Pollock also observes that, because of the tremendous job growth in the City of Boulder itself, and its limitations on residential growth, there has been a spillover housing demand in small outlying communities. The residential growth has occurred in communities without jobs and sales tax base. "This regional imbalance between jobs and housing has created tremendous problems with traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, and school facility needs.[100]" Pollock concedes that the Boulder system has its pluses and minuses:

On the good side, it has allowed Boulder to determine its own ideal city size, with consideration of how much congestion is tolerated, what sized city leads to a high quality of life, and what is sustainable over time. On the bad side, it holds Boulder back from capturing some of the benefits that additional development could bring, such as more affordable housing and less dependence on the automobile by building mixed use, transit-oriented neighborhood centers.[101]

Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky, has employed the urban service area concept in its planning since 1958, the result of an agreement between the city and the county. The effort was the first in the nation. According to its 1988 plan, the urban service area concept "delineates the location of urban growth by dividing the county into an Urban Service Area where development is encouraged and a Rural Service Area where urban oriented activities are not permitted."[102] The program was "designed to protect productive agricultural and horse farm lands, while also encouraging efficient development patterns."[103] The urban service area is to be reviewed every five years. The most recent update was concluded in 1996 and resulted in the addition of approximately 5,330 acres immediately adjacent to the existing urban service area.[104]

What Are the Pros and Cons of Urban Growth Areas?

Like any device that affects the supply of a good or service in the face of a shifting demand, urban growth areas (UGAs) have impacts, either intended or unanticipated. Table 6-1 summarizes a number of pros and cons of urban growth areas drawn from a review of the literature on urban growth areas. The impacts, of course, will depend on the political leadership of the area or region, the nature and robustness of the regional economy, the quality and rigor of the underlying planning, the regularity with which the urban growth areas are revisited, and the relations among local units of government in the relevant region as well as those with the state.

There have been a number of studies of the impact of urban growth areas in Oregon and Washington.[105] A 1991 study of four areas in Oregon (Bend, Brookings, Medford, and Portland) conducted for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development found that urban growth could be largely contained within urban growth boundaries (UGBs). In the Portland area only 5 percent of residential growth occurred outside the UGB. But in the Bend area 57 percent of the residential development occurred outside the UGB, in the Brookings area 37 percent, and in the Medford area 24 percent. Indicators of livability — although the study admitted they were incomplete — suggested some areas for concern: traffic congestion and real housing prices increased in all case study areas, but air quality improved. Though parkland was being acquired in some case study areas, the amount of developed parkland was probably not increasing as fast as population, the study showed. Moreover, fast-growing communities, the study found, appeared to be able to fund their sewer and water needs, but not their street and road needs. Actual developed densities within the UGBs varied considerably among the four case studies. The report recommended an extensive series of measures to improve the operation of UGBs, including minimum densities (in addition to maximums) in residential zones, strict schedules and unambiguous standards for UGB expansion, state programs to assist with the funding of local public services, and the prohibition or limitation of non-farm dwellings in exclusive farm or forest zones.[106]

A 1991 study conducted by 1000 Friends of Oregon and the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland examined the implementation of Oregon's statewide housing goal in the Portland area through the metropolitan housing rule for the Portland area, adopted by the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (Ore. Admin. Rules § 660-07-000 et seq.). That rule requires local plans to provide adequate land zoned for needed housing types and to ensure that land within the metropolitan Portland UGB accommodates the region's population growth. Under the rule, each of the region's three counties and 24 cities must develop plans that allow for a new construction mix that includes at least 50 percent multifamily or attached single-family units and that allow development to occur at certain minimum target housing densities. This ranges from 10 dwelling units per buildable acre in the City of Portland to 6 to 8 dwelling units per buildable acre in suburban areas. The study found that the rule resulted in increasing the availability of affordable housing and making homeownership more attainable by diversifying the stock of single-family housing sites to include smaller lots. Further, the rule's implementation reduced the amount of land consumed by development during the 1985-89 study period. Had planned residential development occurred in the urban growth area at lower pre-housing-rule densities, it would have consumed an addition 1,500 acres of planned residential land — an area over two square miles in size. "Due to this savings in land area," the study concluded, "an additional 15,000 housing units can be built within the UGB. In short, combining Portland urban growth boundary I'pro-housing' policies helps manage growth and promote affordable housing development."[107]

A comprehensive 1992 assessment of the Oregon program by Professors Gerrit Knaap and Arthur C. Nelson concluded that: (1) UGBs facilitated intergovernmental coordination among cities, counties, and state agencies; (2) UGBs affected current land values (generally higher inside the boundary than outside) and allocation; and (3) UGBs had limited ability to manage urban growth (Knaap and Nelson noted that while development at urban densities had been contained within UGBs, development densities within them were lower than planned and development densities outside UGBs were higher than planned).[108]

A 1996 study by the Portland State University Center for Urban Studies, commissioned by Don Morrisette, an elected member of the Portland Metro council and a home builder, examined the impact of the Portland UGB on the metropolitan housing market as part of the discussion over expanding the UGB. The report was intended to influence the amount of land added to the growth area. The report also critiqued the Metro's analyses and models supporting different growth scenarios and suggested a series of different assumptions. The report pointed out that housing prices in the Portland area were rising more rapidly than the rest of the nation. It noted that the median price home had risen from being 19 percent below the average of U.S. Metro areas in 1985 to 6 percent greater by 1994. The average price home in the Portland area rose from being 22 percent cheaper than the U.S. average to 7 percent greater by 1995. Over the period 1990-95, the report said, the average home price had risen by 33 percent in real terms and the median price home had risen by 30 percent in real terms over the period between 1990 and 1994.[109] However, the report, which did not contain any examination of the Portland economy during the analysis period, cautioned:

Admittedly, there are many causes of housing price inflation: the Urban Growth Boundary's impact is only one cause [emphasis supplied]. Land is only one of many inputs in the construction of a home. Other factors that can explain some of the housing price growth over the past 5-6 years include employment growth, real wage growth, net migration to the region, declining interest rates, and declining property tax rates (relative to local government service levels). Yet the ability of housing supply to moderate these demand pressures is affected by the growth boundary and the supply of land.[110]

A 1997 study by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research of Washington State University examined the impact of urban growth area designation on Clark County, Washington, immediately to the north of Portland, Oregon, across the Columbia River and considered part of the Portland-Vancouver, Washington, consolidated metropolitan area. Vancouver and other incorporated areas of Clark County established final urban growth areas in 1994. The study theorized that there would be significant and positive residential lot price effects resulting from the implementation of the Washington Growth Management Act (GMA) of 1990 and that the price effects would occur both inside and outside the urban growth areas.

The study stated that previous research had demonstrated that once urban growth controls are applied uniformly across a jurisdiction, residential lot and house prices experience significant inflation:

The study found an overall lot price increase of 35.5 percent after implementation of urban growth areas. Lot prices increased slightly higher within the urban growth area (38.7 percent) compared to all lots examined. A significant outside/post urban growth area lot price increase was not substantiated by the data. In this final case prices seemed higher, but a limited number of observations limited the statistical robustness of the model.[111]

The study observed:

One implication of this study is that implementation of the GMA, particularly the component of [the] GMA which establishes urban growth areas as part of local comprehensive plans, may be incompatible with one goal of the law, "[to] encourage the availability of affordable housing to all economic segments of the population . . ." Based on an average lot price of $43,282 prior to establishment of the final UGA in Clark County, the county-wide increase of 35.5% in price after UGA implementation translated into a $15,365 increase in the price of a typical lot. This increase in price is sufficient to deny access to new housing to many consumers. In addition, as lot prices increase builders often feel compelled to build more costly homes on the lots to keep the land component of total housing cost within normal ranges. Further, as higher lot prices impact the overall local housing economy, the price of existing homes may also increase.[112]

Pros Cons
Can ensure more compact developmetn. May encourage retention and reuse of existing buildings, including those of histori significance. Requires increases in housing density and land-use intensity that may meet with homeowner opposition.
Reflects preference for urban-type, higher density development. Reduces "urban sprawl." May run counter to consumer preference for low-density development. There is no agreement on what "urban sprawl" is.
Can ensure housing diversity through careful forecasting and land allocation to meet market demand in the planning period. Increases in land and housing costs may occur if land supply and market changes are not monitored.
If drawn on a metropolitan basis, can spread benefits (and costs) of growth among central cities, inner ring of mature suburbs, developing suburbs, and rural areas beyond. If drawn for either a single or scattered group of local governments, growth may be shifted from one part of one community in the urban area to another community or may bypass the encating community and jump outward to the next tier of vacant, but developable land.
Can limit the conversion of prime agricultural land outside urban growth boundary to urban use. Requires strong controls or incentives on use of agricultural land outside urban growth boundary that may engender political opposition by farming intersets.
Can protect agricultural land from conflicts with urban uses — e.g., hog feed lots next to subdivisions There may be no market for agricutlural products. Land that is restricted to agricultural use may only have value for development. Urban growth may "leak" intro rural areas because no other economically viable options are available.
Establishes predictability as to where urbanization will occur in advance, directing private investment. May prompt political opposition from communites that want little or no growth.
Matches urbanization with new infrastructure and promotes reuse of exicting infrastructure. Facilitates mass transit because of higher densities. Requires local government to invest in infrastructure even if ability to generate additional taxes is limited. Absent changes in taxation authority or state grants, wil necesitate impact fees and user charges.
Appropriate for metropolitan areas and jurisictions within them. May be burdensome for small freestanding communities not subject to metropolitan influence. Complexity of system to maintain urban growth areas may not yield commensurate benefits of absence of metropolitan growth pressure.

The Model Statute

The following Section provides optional statutory language to further guide the process of designation of urban growth areas as part of the preparation of a regional (or county) comprehensive plan, and that would apply to municipalities (as well as other local governments, if applicable) in the regional or county planning agency's jurisdiction. It is based in part on the Washington state statute and administrative rules.[113]

The model language places the overall responsibility for the designation at the regional or county level; if there is no regional planning agency in place then one will need to be created or the authority will instead rest with the county planning agency. Whether or not urban growth areas are allowed by a state is a policy judgment on behalf of the state legislature and/or the local governments in a region.[114] There are clearly costs and benefits to the use of urban growth areas and there can be a fair degree of debate on whether they should be employed and in what manner. However, if they are, the Guidebook advocates having one agency with a multi-jurisdictional perspective overseeing the designation process, rather than a collection of local governments individually determining growth boundaries on an ad hoc, uncoordinated basis. Developing an overall regional growth strategy first will enable each local government to develop a growth strategy that is consistent with the regional strategy as well as with the growth strategies of neighboring jurisdictions.

Absent a regional (or county) framework, the consequence of either a single or scattered group of local governments initiating urban growth areas on their own will likely result in a situation where:

(a) growth is simply shifted away from one part of one community in the urban area to another community in the area; or

(b) growth may bypass the enacting community and jump outward to the next tier of vacant, but developable land.

Moreover, a regional urban growth area framework spreads the benefits of the system among the central cities, the inner ring of developed and mature suburbs, developing suburbs, and the rural areas beyond. Under this optional Section:

1. If a state has adopted a state land development plan that provides standards and criteria for the establishment of urban growth area boundaries (see Section 4-204), the regional (or county) comprehensive plan must incorporate those standards and criteria. If not, then the regional or county planning agency is free to develop its own boundaries, consistent with the other requirements of the statute.

2. The regional or county planning agency must consult with municipalities and other local governments in its planning jurisdiction concerning the designation of urban growth areas. Each municipality must be included in an urban growth area, but such an area may also include more than one municipality. This is intended to ensure that urban development is supported by the kind of urban services typically provided by a municipal government.

The type of local government that would have a role in the designation process will vary by state. For example, in parts of the country, where towns or townships have authority over land use in unincorporated areas but lack the full range of municipal powers, they would be participants in the discussion over the location and extent of urban growth areas. In some states, such as Virginia and Maryland, counties have powers that are similar to or identical with municipalities. The Section that follows would need to be modified to reflect the role of counties in such situations.

3. If an agreement is reached with a municipality concerning the location and size of the urban growth area, then the regional or county planning agency incorporates or adopts that designated urban growth area into its regional or county comprehensive plan. The municipality must also incorporate the urban growth area into its own local comprehensive plan.

4. If no agreement is reached, the regional or county planning agency must state in writing its determination regarding the designation of the urban growth area. The municipality may then appeal that determination to a state comprehensive plan appeals board (see Sections 7-402.1 and 7-402.3) or other entity. However, the municipality must first follow any procedures for dispute resolution under rules promulgated by the state planning agency.

5. After the urban growth areas have been designated and incorporated into regional and local plans, the regional or county planning agency, municipalities, and other affected local governments must then:

(a) establish and maintain a land market monitoring system (see Section 7-204.1, Land Market Monitoring System, in Chapter 7); and

(b) periodically review — at least on a five-year basis (and more often as necessary) — the growth area and consider amendments to such a growth area to ensure there is an adequate supply of buildable land.

The urban growth area designation process, it must be emphasized, is not to be employed by an individual municipality (or other local government) without the framework provided by a regional or county planning agency as described below. THIS IS IMPORTANT: The provisions of Section 6-201.1 for establishing urban growth areas are only to be used if these conditions are met.

In addition to criteria for the general designation and priority of designation of urban growth areas, Section 6-201.1 includes language authorizing the establishment of an urban growth area in unincorporated territory to allow for the establishment of a new fully contained community that will be supported by urban services.


6-201.1 Urban Growth Areas [Optional]

(1) A [regional or county planning agency] [shall or may] designate urban growth areas pursuant to this Section, Section [6-201, Alternative 2], Section [7-402.2], and Section [7-204.2].

(2) The purposes of an urban growth area are to:

(a) provide a mechanism whereby a [regional or county] planning agency and the local governments within its planning jurisdiction may coordinate the location and extent of urban growth;

(b) ensure a pattern of compact and contiguous urban growth;[115]

(c) encourage preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings;

(d protect agricultural and forest lands, scenic areas, and other natural resources, living and non-living, from urban development;

(e) identify where urban services are being or will be provided;

(f) direct growth to where infrastructure capacity is available or committed to be available in the future;

(g) ensure that an adequate supply of buildable land for at least [20] years is provided; and

(h) ensure a variety of affordable housing types at varying densities;

(3) Each municipality shall be included within an urban growth area. However, an urban growth area may contain more than one municipality, as determined by the [regional or county planning agency] based on factors affecting the municipalities in common that may include, but shall not be limited to, [any goals, policies, and guidelines in the state land development plan pursuant to Section [4-204(5)(c),] topography, rates of growth, degree of existing urbanization, and sharing of and/or efficiency in providing urban services.

(4) An urban growth area may also include unincorporated territory, but only if such territory:

(a) already has urban growth located on it;

(b) will be, or may easily be, provided with urban services [under an urban service agreement pursuant to Section [6-403]]; or

(c) has been or is proposed to be designated as a new fully contained community pursuant to paragraph (8) below.

(5) In designating any urban growth areas, each [regional or county planning agency] shall use the following general procedure, but may adopt additional procedural rules to ensure and enhance a cooperative effort among local governments within its planning jurisdiction, provided that such additional rules do not conflict with this procedure and any rules adopted by the [state planning agency]:

(a) The [regional or county planning agency] shall consult with all municipalities [and other local governments such as boroughs, towns, or townships] located within its planning jurisdiction concerning the designation of urban growth areas and shall ensure early and continuous public participation in the designation process pursuant to Section [6-301] and Section [7-401], respectively;

(b) Each municipality shall propose to the [regional or county planning agency] the designation of an urban growth area that shall include the area within its municipal boundary and that may include additional unincorporated areas contiguous to its municipal boundary;[116]

(c) The [regional or county planning agency] shall attempt to reach agreement with each municipality located within its planning jurisdiction on the location and size of the urban growth area;

(d) If an agreement is reached with a municipality, the [regional or county planning agency] shall incorporate and adopt that designated urban growth area into its [regional or county] comprehensive plan and shall delineate an urban growth boundary on the plan map pursuant to Section [6-201(5)(g)1; Alternative 2]. The municipality [as well as each local government included in a designated urban growth area] shall also incorporate and adopt the urban growth area into its own local comprehensive plan and shall delineate an urban growth boundary on the generalized composite comprehensive plan map pursuant to Section [7-201(8) above] and on the future land-use plan map pursuant to Section [7-204(6)(c)7] above.

(e) If the [regional or county planning agency] does not reach an agreement with a municipality within its planning jurisdiction on the designation of the urban growth area, the [regional or county planning agency] shall state in writing its determination regarding the designation of the urban growth area and the basis for that determination. The municipality may appeal the [regional or county] planning agency's determination to the [state comprehensive plan appeals board or other entity] pursuant to Section [7-402.3] below, provided however, that the municipality shall first follow any procedures for dispute resolution under any rules promulgated by the [state planning agency] pursuant to paragraph (10) below.

(6) Any urban growth area established pursuant to this Section shall meet the following criteria:

(a) The urban growth area(s) in a [region or county] shall contain land areas and minimum densities and intensities of land uses sufficient to accommodate [between [115] percent and [125] percent of] the urban growth that the [regional or county planning agency] has projected to occur in the [region or county] for the succeeding [20]-year period; and

  • The numbers in brackets regarding the additional percentage of land areas that are necessary to accommodate urban growth are guidelines that are intended to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of vacant land inside the urban growth area boundary. The provision of additional land may thereby allow the efficient and competitive functioning of the real estate market and prevent landowners from monopolizing large parcels of vacant land, consequently driving up land prices. Depending on the type of system used to project urban growth and land supply needs, it may not be necessary to incorporate the bracketed percentages in the statute.

(b) The urban growth area(s) shall contain those lands designated for land uses that are allocated to the urban growth area by the projections in the [regional or county] comprehensive plan pursuant to Section[ [6-201(3)(i)]; Alternative 2]. The densities and intensities of those land uses shall be stated in the [regional or county] comprehensive plan pursuant to Sections [[6-201(5)(c) and (g)]; Alternative 2] [and shall be as specified in the state land development plan pursuant to Section [4-204(5)(c)]].

(7) A [regional or county planning agency] shall observe the following sequence in designating land for urban growth in an urban growth area established pursuant to paragraph (6) above:

(a) first, those land areas that are already characterized by urban growth and that have adequate existing urban services;

(b) second, those land areas primarily characterized by urban growth that are or will be served adequately by a combination of existing and future urban services provided by public or private entities [under an urban service agreement pursuant to Section [6-403]]; and

(c) third, those remaining land areas that are primarily vacant that will be served adequately by future urban services provided by public or private entities [under an urban service agreement pursuant to Section [6-403]].

(8) In addition to following the sequence set forth in paragraph (7) above to designate land for urban growth, a [regional or county planning agency] may also, after consulting with municipalities and other local governments within its planning jurisdiction, establish by rule a process to designate an urban growth area in unincorporated territory in order to allow for the establishment of a new fully contained community, provided that the following criteria are satisfied:

(a) the planning for such a community complies with all other requirements of this Act, including the establishment of minimum land-use densities and intensities;

(b) a mix of uses is provided for in order to offer jobs, housing (including affordable housing), and retailing to residents of the new community;

(c) the urban growth in such a fully contained community will be supported by urban services; and

[(d) add other criteria, as desired].[117]

(9) The [regional or county planning agency] [,] [and] any municipality [, and any other applicable local government] that is included in a designated urban growth area shall:

(a) establish and maintain a land market monitoring system pursuant to Section [7-204.1];[118]

(b) evaluate the need to amend such urban growth area, the [regional or county] comprehensive plan, the local comprehensive plan, and the land development regulations of the affected local government:

1. at least every [5] years; and/or

2. when such urban growth area does not contain sufficient buildable lands to accommodate residential, commercial, and industrial needs for the next [20] years, as found pursuant to Section [7-204.1(5)].

— Subparagraph (b) requires that the urban growth area as well as the underlying comprehensive plans and local land development regulations be reevaluated at least every five years, and more often when the urban growth area has an insufficient supply of buildable lands to meet foreseeable needs.

(c) take other necessary implementing actions, including, but not limited to, restrictions on the provision of urban services, to ensure that urban growth occurs within the urban growth area.

(10) Pursuant to Section [4-103], the [state planning agency] may adopt rules and, upon adopting rules, prepare and distribute guidelines in order to further implement this Section. These rules may include procedures for dispute resolution regarding the designation of urban growth areas.

(11) The urban growth area shall be amended in the same manner as the original designation pursuant to this Section.

(12) Pursuant to [Section 7-402.3], any municipality [or other local government] may appeal the written determination of a [regional or county planning agency] designating a proposed urban growth area under subparagraph (5)(e) above.


Commentary: Preparation of Regional Functional Plans

Regional planning agencies may also prepare regional functional plans to cover topics like parks and open space, bikeways, water, sanitary sewerage and sewage treatment, water supply and distribution, solid waste, airports, libraries, communications, and other facilities. Rather than drafting legislation specific to each function, the approach taken below is to provide a generic statute for all types of functional plans. The model is based on Minn. Stat. Ann. § 473.146, which describes policy plans for different functions overseen by the Metropolitan Council in the Twin Cities.


6-202 Preparation of Regional Functional Plans

(1) The [regional planning agency] [shall or may], with the involvement of the region's local governments, special districts, relevant interested groups, and citizens, prepare and adopt, and update and amend at least every [5 or 10] years, regional functional plans for the following services and facilities [list functional areas (e.g., water, sewer, transportation, housing, solid waste, open space and parks, historic preservation, and flood control)], provided however that no such functional plan shall be adopted until the [regional planning agency] has first adopted a regional comprehensive plan. Such plans shall provide additional goals, policies, guidelines, and supporting analyses that detail, and that are consistent with, the adopted regional comprehensive plan.

(2) Each functional plan shall include, to the extent appropriate for the services and facilities covered:

(a) a forecast of change for a [20]-year period in the need for the services and facilities for the region and by subareas of the region as a consequence of change in population, households, employment, development patterns, or other relevant factors;

(b) a statement, with supporting analysis, of issues, problems, needs, and opportunities with respect to the services and facilities covered;

(c) a statement of existing capacities, where appropriate, of the services or facilities, and a statement of the [regional planning agency]'s goals and policies with respect to the facilities and services that addresses the areas and populations to be served, the levels, distribution, and staging in time of services, and a general description of the facility systems required to support the services, and other similar matters;

(d) a map showing existing and future service areas for the services or facilities covered;

(e) an identification of providers, whether public or private, of the relevant services or facilities in the region;

(f) a statement of the fiscal implications of the functional plan, including existing and additional financial resources, if any, that may be required to effectuate the [regional planning agency]'s goals and policies. This may include amendments to a long-range program of implementation in the regional comprehensive plan [as required by [Section 6-201(5)(h)] above]; and

(g) a statement describing the consistency of the functional plan with other goals and policies contained in the adopted regional comprehensive plan and the other functional plans, including the location of service areas for existing and proposed public services and facilities in relation to urban growth areas.


Commentary: Regional Housing Plan

The following Section describes the components of a regional housing plan that parallel the requirements of the state housing plan in Section 4-207 of the Legislative Guidebook. While the regional comprehensive plan, as described in Section 6-201 above, does call for studies of the "amount, quality, affordability, and geographic distribution of housing among local governments in the region," (paragraph (3)(d)) and proposes the statement of regional goals, policies, and guidelines for "housing, including minimum net housing densities," (paragraph (5)(c)(2) of Alternative 2) the housing plan proposed below is more specific. It emphasizes the forecasting of housing need for the region, especially affordable housing, and the preparation of a long-range program of implementation describing actions that various agencies can take to meet those housing needs. Like the state housing plan, the regional housing plan is intended to propose new programs or change existing programs related to housing and to stimulate or inspire other governmental agencies and nonprofit and for- profit agencies to address housing needs.

The regional housing plan may also be linked to the regional fair-share allocation plan described in Section 4-208.8, Alternative 1B, of the Legislative Guidebook as part of the Model Balanced and Affordable Housing Act.


6-203 Regional Housing Plan

(1) The [regional planning agency] [shall or may], with the involvement of the region's local governments, special districts, affected state agencies, home builders, developers, contractors, labor and other groups, nonprofit providers of housing, and citizens, prepare, adopt, review, and amend on a [5 or 10]-year basis a regional housing plan. The housing plan shall be consistent with the adopted regional comprehensive plan [and with the state housing plan].

(2) The purposes of the regional housing plan are to:

(a) document the needs for housing in the region, including affordable housing, and the extent to which private- and public-sector programs are meeting those needs;

(b) provide the framework for and facilitate planning for the housing needs of the region, including the need for affordable housing, especially as it relates to the location of such housing proximate to jobsites;

(c) identify barriers to the production of housing, including affordable housing, and

(d) develop sound strategies, programs, and other actions to address needs for housing, including affordable housing.

(3) In preparing the regional housing plan, the [regional planning agency] shall undertake supporting studies that are relevant to the topical areas included in the plan. In undertaking these studies, the [regional planning agency] may use studies conducted by others. The supporting studies shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following:

(a) an evaluation of and summary statistics on housing conditions for the region for all economic segments. The evaluation shall include the existing distribution of housing by type, size, gross rent, value, and, to the extent data are available, condition, the existing distribution of households by gross annual income and size, and the number of middle-, moderate-, and low-income households that pay more than [28] percent of their gross annual household income for owner-occupied housing and [30] percent of the gross annual household income for rental housing;

(b) a projection for each of the next [5] years of total housing needs, including needs for middle-, moderate-, and low-income and special needs housing in terms of units necessary to be built or rehabilitated within the region;

— Households most commonly identified as requiring "special needs" programs include the elderly, the physically and mentally disabled, single heads of household, large families, farm workers and migrant laborers, and the homeless.

(c) an analysis of the capabilities, constraints, and degree of progress made by the public and private sectors in meeting the housing needs, including those for affordable housing and special needs housing, within the region; and

(d) an identification and comprehensive assessment of state and local regulatory barriers to affordable housing, including building, housing, zoning, subdivision, and related codes, and their administration.

(4) The regional housing plan shall consist of the following:

(a) a policy element that defines regional housing goals, policies, and guidelines, including numerical goals for each of the next [5] years for the production of housing units, both new and rehabilitated, for middle-, moderate-, and low-income households and special needs housing within the region. The policy element shall include summaries of supporting studies as identified in paragraph (3) above.

(b) amendments, as appropriate, to a long-range program of implementation in the regional comprehensive plan [as required by Section [6-201(5)(h)]] that describe actions that the state legislature, state agencies, the [regional planning agency], local governments, special districts, home builders, developers, nonprofit providers of housing, and others may take over the next [5] years to meet regional housing goals. Such amendments may include, but shall not be limited to, proposals for:

1. financing for the acquisition, rehabilitation, preservation, or construction of affordable housing;

2. use of publicly owned land and buildings as sites for low- and moderate-income housing;

3. regulatory and administrative techniques to remove barriers to the development of affordable housing at all levels of government and to promote the location of such housing proximate to jobsites;

4. use of federal funds and any state, local, or other resources available for affordable housing;

5. stimulation of public- and private-sector cooperation in the development of affordable housing, and the creation of incentives for the private sector to construct or rehabilitate affordable housing;

6. changes in state or local tax, infrastructure financing, and land-use policies, procedures, statutes and/or ordinances to encourage or support affordable housing. This may include the designation of a sufficient number of sites zoned at densities that may accommodate affordable housing at locations that are accessible to existing or proposed employment concentrations in the region;

7 local opportunities for public housing resident management and ownership;

8. expansion or rehabilitation of public infrastructure to support housing, especially affordable housing; and

9. a description of the means by which the [regional planning agency] will ensure that a variety of housing types, at appropriate locations with respect to existing and proposed jobsites, will be made available to accommodate low- and moderate-income households.

[(5) The regional housing plan [shall or may] include a regional fair-share allocation plan pursuant to Section [4-208.8, see Alternative 1B].]


Commentary: Preparation of Regional Transportation Plan

Federal involvement in regional transportation planning dates back to 1962 when Congress enacted the Federal Aid Highway Act[119] that authorized such planning for metropolitan areas. In 1991, Congress passed the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which changed the approach by which states and metropolitan areas plan for transportation needs. This was followed by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998, which revamped ISTEA.[120] These federal laws emphasize increasing spending on mass transit, improving the performance of the existing road network, mitigating congestion, and encouraging alternative forms of transportation, including bicycling and walking. They also stress designing highways that are sensitive to their context, designating and protecting scenic highways, and improving transportation through enhancements. They moved the focus from developing a transportation system based on moving vehicles from one place to another to a process to facilitate access for people and the movement of goods consistent with desired land-use patterns.

Under federal law, all urbanized areas over 50,000 population must have a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) to carry out the transportation planning process and prepare a long-range plan.[121] The governor and the jurisdictions within metropolitan areas designate the organization and its boundaries. The MPO's boundaries are to encompass the urbanized area and the contiguous area to be developed within 20 years. For areas designated as nonattainment areas for ozone or carbon monoxide under the act, the boundaries of the metropolitan area must at least include the boundaries of the nonattainment area, but if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expands the nonattainment area, the MPO's jurisdiction may also expand as well, if the governor and MPO can agree on the boundary change.[122] New MPOs, however, will address nonattainment areas as appropriate.

According to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR) (which no longer exists), there are 339 recognized MPOs responsible for the transportation planning required to keep regions eligible for federal highway, transit, and surface transportation funds. MPOs may be, as noted earlier, separate organizations from regional planning agencies. In the 1970s, about 75 percent of MPOs were staffed by metropolitan regional councils. That ratio is changing, and, according to ACIR, only about 44 percent are currently staffed by regional councils. Some are staffed by individual cities, counties, or city-county planning commissions, or they are independent entities having only MPO responsibilities.[123] Some regions have multiple MPOs, instead of a single MPO, which complicates the region-wide coordination of transportation planning.

The federal legislation requires that the MPO planning process consider projects and strategies that address seven factors listed in the statutes.[124] The projects in the transportation plan must be consistent with the state implementation plan for air quality. In addition, the planning for transportation improvements must be financially realistic. Projects that are listed in the transportation plan and the transportation improvement program (TIP) for each metropolitan area — a three-year schedule of projects that represents the MPO's priorities for federal projects — can be included "only if full funding can reasonably be anticipated to be available for the project within the time period contemplated for completion . . ."[125] However, the financial plan for the transportation and TIP may include, for illustrative purpose only, additional projects that would be included for federal funding if reasonable additional resources were available.[126]

Few states have complementary state statutes describing in specific terms the contents of regional transportation plans of the type contemplated by federal law. One exception is California, whose statutes, amended in 1993, define the contents of a regional transportation plan. This plan is to include: (1) a policy element, which considers important transportation issues and the desired short- and long-range transportation goals; (2) an action element, which describes the programs and actions necessary to implement the plan, assigns responsibilities to carry them out, and identifies programs designed to manage congestion; and (3) a financial element, which summarizes the cost of plan implementation, and compares these costs to a realistic projection of available revenues.[127]

In a Growing Smart working paper,[128] Attorneys Robert H. Freilich and S. Mark White suggest four approaches at the state and (more important) the regional level for transportation planning.

1. Status Quo (Demand Responsive). This approach does not attempt to directly control land-use decisions, at least from a state or regional perspective. The location, magnitude, and timing of transportation improvements are directed primarily to areas of future expected high demand. In most areas, this means that new roadways are constructed in growing suburban areas, thereby encouraging development to move spatially outward and to deconcentrate.

2. Congestion or Capacity Responsive. This approach attempts to direct development away from areas of high congestion and into areas in which transportation improvements are underutilized. As with the demand-responsive regime, the result may be to force new development away from the urban core or developed areas, and towards areas in which sparse development patterns have resulted in high service levels.

3. Mitigation Responsive. This approach, favored by economists, requires those who place demands on the transportation network to assume the burden of addressing impacts through mitigation or monetary exactions. This approach was recently championed by economist Anthony Downs in Stuck in Traffic, in which he advocates congestion pricing (payment of user charges for the use of the transportation facility, especially when at its highest peak system usage), and is discussed in an APA PAS Report, The Transportation/Land Use Connection.[129]

4. Coordinated Transportation/Land-Use Planning. This is the most proactive of the alternatives and involves the greatest degree of up-front planning. In essence, this approach identifies a desired urban form and desired transportation network, and attempts to strike a balance between the two. Transportation decisions are based on the effect of new capacity on the desired urban form, and the desired urban form is influenced by the availability of existing capacity and the ability or inclination to expand into new areas. They are also influenced by the mobility expectations and access needs of the traveling public, recognizing that capacity of physical facilities alone is not an adequate measure of transport supply.

The model legislation below is intended to parallel, but not duplicate in substantive terms, the requirements of ISTEA and its successor, TEA-21. Instead, it provides language that will enable the regional planning agency (if it is also the MPO) to address the four approaches described above. In particular, the model emphasizes the preparation of underlying studies about the supply of and demand for transportation that would support either the mitigation responsive or coordinated transportation/land- use approaches. The resulting transportation plan is also intended to mesh with an existing regional comprehensive plan. For example, the transportation improvement program requirement of federal legislation would be incorporated into the regional plan's implementation framework as a plan amendment.


6-204 Regional Transportation Plan

(1) The [regional planning agency][130] [shall or may], with the involvement of the region's local governments, special districts, affected state agencies, public and private providers of transportation, and citizens, prepare, adopt, review, and amend, on a [3- or 5-]year[131] basis a regional transportation plan. The transportation plan shall be consistent with the adopted regional comprehensive plan [and with the state transportation plan].

(2) The purposes of the regional transportation plan are to guide, balance, and coordinate transportation activities in the region, in conjunction with other related activities such as land-use planning and economic development, and to ensure that transportation planning addresses and maximizes the potential of all existing and developing transportation modes and facilitates the efficient movement of people and goods.

(3) In preparing the regional transportation plan, the [regional planning agency] shall undertake supporting studies that are relevant to the topical areas included in the plan. In undertaking these studies, the [regional planning agency] may use studies conducted by others. The supporting studies shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following:

(a) inventories of modal and multimodal transportation facilities and services in the region;

(b) forecasts and evaluations of population, employment, land use, and transportation, by mode, for a [20]-year period;

(c) identification and evaluation of transportation system alternatives with respect to intensity of use, public and private costs, impacts on economic development, land use, energy consumption, the environment (including air quality), and safety, and consistency with goals and policies identified in the regional comprehensive plan;

(d) identification and evaluation of the impact on the region of policies and programs that affect the supply of transportation or transportation congestion, as appropriate, including, but not limited to, addition of high occupancy vehicle lanes to existing roads, the construction of new roads with high occupancy vehicle lanes, building new transit systems or improving existing transit systems, improving traffic operations through signalization and other means, and removing traffic accidents rapidly from roadways;

(e) identification and evaluation of the impact on the region of policies and programs that affect the demand for transportation or transportation congestion, as appropriate, including, but not limited to, staggering work schedules, encouraging people to work at home, encouraging ridesharing, instituting peak-hour tolls on major thoroughfares or other congestion pricing measures, clustering high-density housing near transit station stops, concentrating employment in areas of new growth, imposing a tax on parking in areas of high parking demand, and increasing densities in transportation corridors; and

(f) any other studies that may be required by federal law or regulations.

(4) The regional transportation plan shall consist of the following elements:

(a) a policy element that defines regional transportation goals and policies. The policy element may address: coordination of transportation modes; the relationship of transportation to land use, economic development, the environment (including air quality), and energy consumption; the coordination of transportation among federal, state, regional, and local plans; transportation financing and pricing; transportation safety, and the equity of transportation services across the communities of the region.

(b) a system element in text and maps that proposes a coordinated and integrated transportation system for the region consisting of a multimodal network of facilities and services to be developed over a [20]-year period for air, rail, state and federal highways (including scenic highways), public transit, waterways, ports and waterborne transit, bicycle transportation, pedestrian walkways, and other modes to support the goals and policies identified in the policy element. The system element shall include summaries of supporting studies identified in paragraph (3) above, an identification of corridors (including scenic corridors) and transportation facilities of statewide, regional, or extra-jurisdictional significance, and statements of minimum levels of service that describe the performance for each mode in order to meet the goals and policies of the plan.

(c) amendments, as appropriate, to a long-range program of implementation in the regional comprehensive plan [as required by Section [6-201(5)(h)]] that describe actions that the [regional planning agency], local governments, public and private providers of transportation, state agencies, and other affected agencies can take over the next [20] years to achieve regional transportation goals and policies. [Such amendments may be in a form or include contents to satisfy the requirements for a transportation improvement program as described in Section 134(h) of Title 23, United States Code.][132]

Procedures for Plan Review and Adoption


Commentary: Public Review and Hearings on Regional Plans (Two Alternatives)

The following alternative sections are a parallel to the procedures set forth in Section 4-209 for the adoption of state plans. They describe an informal workshop intended to alert the public at an early stage about how the regional planning agency intends to prepare a regional plan and engage their views as well as a more formal hearing at which members of the public comment on a draft plan proposed for adoption. Alternative 2 provides language that would permit the agency to give notice through a computer-accessible information network, such as the Internet or some other type of electronic bulletin board. It is conceivable that regional plans could be made available on such networks as a file for downloading and subsequent review by interested citizens.

There are many ways to obtain ongoing citizen participation as part of the preparation of regional plans.[133] The term "workshop," in particular, should be construed broadly. A workshop could be a meeting of a small focus group intended to develop specific goals and policies or charettes to address the graphic presentation of a plan's design recommendations. It could also be a "town hall" meeting that is broadcast on television throughout the region. The regional agency could employ a neutral facilitator to help participants identify problems and define potential solutions. Developments in computer technology and telecommunications make it possible to hold such meetings on-line or on interactive cable television, with the opportunity to express opinions on various alternatives. Public opinion polling and use of focus groups are other techniques that may be employed. However, particular approaches to citizen participation should be shaped not by legislation, but by the needs, issues, and political traditions of the region. The model provisions that follow simply provide a framework for what is to occur, but the specifics rely on the imagination of those engaged in the preparation of regional plans.


6-301 Workshops and Public Hearings (Two Alternatives)

Alternative 1 — Simple Procedure[134]

(1) Before initiating work on the regional comprehensive plan, any regional functional plan, a regional housing plan, [a regional fair share allocation plan,] a regional transportation plan, or amendments to any plan, the [regional planning agency] shall publish notice. The agency may also hold workshops on the plan or amendment, provided that it publishes notice of the date, time, and place of the workshop at least [30] days in advance.

(2) The [regional planning agency] shall hold a public hearing on a proposed regional comprehensive plan, any functional plan, or a proposed amendment to any plan at a date, time, and place in the region determined by the [agency]. Not less than [30] days before the hearing, the [regional planning agency] shall publish a notice stating the date, time, and place of the hearing, and the place where the proposed plan or amendment may be examined by any interested person prior to the hearing, and where copies of the proposed plan or amendment may be obtained or purchased. All notices shall be published in a newspaper or newspapers having general circulation in the region.

(3) At the hearing, the [agency] shall permit interested persons to present their views orally or in writing on the proposed plan or amendment, and the hearing may be continued from time to time.

(4) After the hearing, the [regional planning agency] may revise the proposed plan or amendment, giving appropriate consideration to all comments received.

Alternative 2 — Detailed Procedure

(1) Within [90] days of initiating work on the regional comprehensive plan, any regional functional plan, a regional housing plan, [a regional fair share allocation plan,] a regional transportation plan, or on an amendment to any plan, the [regional planning agency] shall conduct at least [2] public information workshops or other type of public collaborative process within the region. The purposes of the workshops are to inform the public as to the process and schedule for preparing the plan or amendment and to solicit public comment and response on potential goals, policies, guidelines, priorities, design alternatives, problems, potential solutions, and implementation measures before a draft of the plan or amendment is completed. The [agency] shall give notice by publication in a newspaper that circulates in the area served by the workshop and may give notice, which may include a copy of the draft plan or amendment, by publication on a computer-accessible information network, or by other appropriate means at least [30] days in advance of the workshop.

(2) Upon completion of a preliminary draft of the plan or amendment, the [regional planning agency] shall conduct [not less than 2] public hearings on the plan or amendment at different locations in the region. The [agency] shall give notice by publication in a newspaper that circulates in the area served by the hearing and may give notice, which may include a copy of the draft plan or amendment, by publication on a computer-accessible information network or by other appropriate means at least [30] days in advance of the hearing.

(3) The notice of each workshop or public hearing shall:

(a) contain a statement of the substance of the workshop or hearing, and a description of the substance of the proposed plan or amendment;

(b) specify the officer(s) or employee(s) of the [agency] from whom additional information may be obtained;

(c) specify a time and place where the work program or draft plan or amendment may be inspected before the hearing; and

(d) specify the date, time, place, and method for presentation of views by interested persons.

(4) The [agency] shall provide notice to the chief executive officer of each special district, local government in the area served by the workshop or hearing, the [state planning agency], [other state agencies whose functions are related to the purpose of the workshop or hearing], [alternatively: the director of the state agency designated by the governor to serve as the distributor of regional plans and amendments to all state agencies], and to any other interested person who, in writing, requests to be provided notice of the workshop or hearing.

(5) The [agency] shall afford any interested person the opportunity to submit written recommendations and comments in the record of the hearing, copies of which shall be kept on file and made available for public inspection.

(6) The [agency] may establish additional procedures for the receipt of oral statements.

(7) The [agency] may prepare written responses to any written recommendations and comments submitted by any interested party. These may be included in the final plan or amendment document.

(8) Taking full account of the written and oral testimony presented at the public hearings, the [agency] shall make revisions in the preliminary draft plan or amendment as it deems necessary and shall prepare and distribute to all local governments and special districts in the region, [state planning agency], [other state agencies or the director of the state agency designated by the governor to serve as the distributor of regional plans and amendments to all state agencies], and other interested persons a final draft plan or amendment to be considered for adoption. The [regional planning agency] may modify or amend the final draft plan or amendment before adopting it.

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