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Our Smartest-growing Cities

The EPA just announced the winners of the 2009 Smart Growth Achievement Awards. The awards are sort of like the Oscars for sensible city planning....


The EPA just announced the winners of the 2009 Smart Growth Achievement Awards. The awards are sort of like the Oscars for sensible city planning. There are four categories: Overall Excellence in Smart Growth; Policies and Regulations; Built Projects; and Smart Growth and Green Building. And the envelope please...Lancaster County, Pennsylvania won the Overall Excellence award. Lancaster is in the heart of Amish country and it looks like they're doing a good job of balancing growth with tradition:One of the defining features of Envision Lancaster County is its emphasis: a balance between protecting natural resources and farmland and encouraging growth and development in appropriate areas. Using the plan's principles, the Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board and the Lancaster Farmland Trust worked together to permanently protect almost 82,000 acres of farmland.Charlotte, North Carolina won the Policies and Regulations award for what looks like an incredibly well thought-out "Complete Streets Policy" that incorporates aesthetic considerations and the needs of bikers and pedestrians. You can get primary documents on the guidelines Charlotte uses here. They're really pretty impressive.The Parkside residential development in Chicago won the award for Built Projects. Here's why:To create a sense of community and responsibility, the Parkside designers created smaller, more intimate spaces that would meet the practical needs of residents. They strategically placed larger, "family unit" townhomes near the playgrounds so that children would be closer to adults-providing additional "built-in" security. This two-phase, 800-unit housing project replaced a failed segregated housing project with a mixed-use, socioeconomically diverse neighborhood.Tempe, Arizona's Tempe Transportation Center won the award for Smart Growth and Green Building:The city of Tempe designed the Tempe Transportation Center as a multi-use green facility that is not only a transportation hub, but also a gathering spot for the community. A multimodal, mixed-use facility, the center integrates the downtown light-rail stop, the main city bus station, and the state's first "bike station," which offers secure on-site storage and repairs.It replaced a 2.7-acre parking lot. Awesome.Photo of (part of) the Tempe Transportation Center from Flickr user Nick Bastian Tempe, AZ (cc)