Denver

Author: Roger Bardsley, AICP I recently visited the city of Denver, CO and came away with a number of favorable impressions.  I worked in the Denver metro area from 1980-1984 and Denver today is not the city I remember.  First, a little background:  The Denver metro area (as defined by the Denver Regional Council of Governments) is made up of nine counties and 47 municipalities with a population of over three million.  The region uses a fairly consistent grid street pattern and addressing system that covers most of the area. No need to get lost if you can read a map.  Second, most of the sewage is treated by the Metro Denver sewage treatment district, with the great majority handled at one plant in Commerce City (don’t ask about water).  Storm sewer is likewise handled on a regional basis.  The metro area is under one MPO and one Regional Council.  Even better, transit is consolidated under a single district known as RTD.  OK, so that gives the Denver region an advantage over most other fragmented and disorganized metropolitan areas, but still, what they have accomplished is remarkable.  Here are the highlights: Light Rail:  When I worked there light rail was being discussed – lots of talk and lines on the map, but nothing concrete.  In roughly the same time that Charlotte built one light rail line, Denver built nine, covering 85 miles, with a connection to the airport and all of the professional sports venues.  That is an exaggeration since the line to the airport just opened last year, but it is still an impressive track record.  Their downtown transit...

Thermal Belt Rail Trail Project Moves Forward

Author: Karyl Fuller, GISP, CZO The Thermal Belt Rail Trail is moving forward and should become a reality in late 2018 as a result of action taken by the RHI Legacy Foundation Board of Trustees. RHI Legacy Board voted to fund construction of the 12-foot wide, 13.36 mile asphalt trail that would connect communities across the county from Forest City to Gilkey.  The grant also includes funding for up to six potential trailheads to provide parking and other amenities at access points for the trail. The grant request was approved for $4,250,000.  Dr. Bobby England, Chairman stated, “The construction of this trail represents a transformational project for the county that combines health and wellness, economic development and neighborhood improvement.  Due to this project’s importance, we prioritized it outside of the Foundation’s normal grant cycle.” In 2016, the Town of Forest City received a $149,000 grant from RHI Legacy Foundation to survey and engineer the trail.  Forest City applied on behalf of Rutherford County, Ruth, Rutherfordton, Spindale as well as itself.  In addition, Forest City received an Appalachian Regional Commission grant for trailhead design and master planning.  McGill and Associates and David Odom Engineering are providing the trail design and engineering.  Keith Webb from McGill  said, “David and I have both worked in the county over 20 years.  By far, this project reflects the highest level of intergovernmental cooperation and common purpose that we have ever seen....

Emily Goldstein Named 2017 Summer Fellow

Emily Goldstein is a native of North Carolina and a rising senior at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she is a Robertson Scholar. She is a geography major with double minors in public policy and city and regional planning. Emily is deeply passionate about social justice and community organizing and is involved in a number of justice related community organizations. As an aspiring urban planner, Emily is interested in the intersections of planning, policy and justice. She is particularly interested in the power of homeownership and economic development to transform households and communities to create a more just and equitable future. In her free time she enjoys biking, gardening, looking at art, and sometimes, attempting to make it. Emily is incredibly excited to spend the summer learning about the work of the NC APA and the planning profession. In addition to the NC APA Fellowship, Emily is interning at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) in Durham, where she is supporting research on rural mortgage lending, GSE reform, and criminal justice debt....

The Power of Plants: Enriching Lives, Creating Jobs, Building Wealth, Saving Money

Author: Debbie Hamrick, Director Specialty Crops North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation PO Box 27766 Raleigh, NC 27611-7766 (919) 334-2977 Cell: (919) 302-9538 debbie.hamrick@ncfb.org Horticulture positively affects people’s lives where they live, work, shop and play, according to a new report from the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) (www.ConsumerHort.org). The benefits of consumer horticulture are spotlighted in “#PlantsDoThat, Horticulture: The Art, Science, & Business of Plants.” The infographic illustrates how consumer horticulture contributes $196 billion to the U.S. economy and creates more than 2 million jobs. “The story doesn’t just stop at direct economic impact,” said Casey Sclar, NICH Chair. “Consumer and society engagement through plants permeates all aspects of our lives, from providing the aesthetic backdrop to directly enriching our health and well-being.” According to the NICH report, plants benefit society in many ways: Plants in the workplace reduce employee sick time by 14% Well-landscaped homes are more valuable; since homes represent 25% of personal wealth, outdoor plants pack a powerful personal finance punch American’s are growing more of their own food—25% of all Americans grow berries, veggies or fruit trees Shaded roadways save 60% of repaving costs America’s public gardens generate $2.3 billion in tourism spending The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) is a consortium of industry leaders who are promoting the benefits and value of horticulture. NICH brings together academia, government, industry, and nonprofits to cultivate the growth and development of a healthy world through landscapes, gardens and plants – indoors and out. The Mission of NICH is to grow a healthy world through plants, gardens, and landscapes. #PlantsDoThat—Horticulture: The Art, Science & Business of Plants is...

Durham Launches New Development Services Center

Author: Pete Sullivan, AICP, Development Coordination Supervisor, Durham Development Services Center The Durham City-County Development Services Center (DSC) opened on April 3, 2017, with a mission of streamlining Durham’s development review process and enhancing customer service. A joint initiative of the Planning, Inspections, and Public Works Department, the DSC is both a new physical space and reorganization of program activities and staff. The DSC is intended to be a “one-stop-shop,” providing 1) application intake for Planning, Inspections, and Public Works, 2) in-person customer service, and 3) quick turn-around for minor planning and building projects. Collectively, Durham’s development review process includes over seventy different permit and/or review types, spanning more than twenty City and County Departments. The rate and complexity of development in Durham has increased over time, giving rise to the concept of a more integrated service delivery model. While all City and County Departments do outstanding work in their program areas, the need to obtain approvals from multiple City and/or County Departments can lead to permitting delays and a frustrating customer experience. To address these compartmentalization issues, the DSC emphasizes customer service and procedural streamlining, better positioning the City and County to improve the predictability, timeliness, and quality of the development review process. Creation of the DSC was led by Patrick O. Young, AICP, who was recently named Director of the Durham City-County Planning Department. Mr. Young joined the department in 2008 as Assistant Director, and has helped advance the creation of affordable housing in Durham. He succeeds Steven L. Medlin, who retired after 30 years of service to the department. The DSC is located in the former lobby...