Grow Smart Rhode Island
Smart Growth e-Briefs
  News and Tools for People Shaping Our Communities June 2004  

This Month

Grow Smart contributes to new national research study

Legislative Update - bills to watch

Study to Measure Fiscal and Economic Impact of the Commerical Historic Tax Credit

Open Space News

Recognize planning excellence in your community

Smart Stuff

Study: Longer drives adding to waistlines


Online tool helps local officials, citizens manage growth

Grow Smart Board of Directors

Michael F. Ryan
Chairman of the Board

Susan Arnold
William Baldwin
S. James Busam
Joseph Caffey
Robert L. Carothers
Arnold Chace
Jen Cookke
Trudy Coxe
Peter Damon
Louise Durfee
Stephen J. Farrell
Thomas E. Freeman
J. Joseph Garrahy
John R. Gowell, Jr.
Stephen Hamblett
Robert Harding
Michael S. Hudner
Stanley J. Kanter
Howard M. Kilguss
Thomas A. Lawson
Dennis Langley
James Leach
Frederick Lippitt
Roger Mandle
Rev. James C. Miller
Thomas V. Moses
George Nee
B. Michael Rauh, Jr.
Gary Sasse
Richard Schartner
Deming Sherman
Merrill Sherman
Curt Spalding
James F. Twaddell
Ranne Warner
Sandra Whitehouse
Frederick C. Williamson
W. Edward Wood

Board Listing with Affiliation (pdf)


Scott Wolf
Executive Director

Sheila Brush
Director of Programs

John Flaherty
Director of Research & Communications

Lynn Burns
Office Manager / Executive Assistant

Dorothy Dauray
Office Assistant

Linsey Cameron
Research Assistant

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Read Today's
Smart Growth

   Dear John,

You're among the 1,938 opinion leaders, state & local officials, development professionals, journalists and visionary citizens getting the latest news, happenings and trends in the smart growth movement from Grow Smart Rhode Island.

  • Grow Smart contributes to new national research study
  •    "Smart Growth is Smart Business" offers latest evidence that revitalizing cities and curbing sprawl strengthens the economy.

    Across America, communities are grappling with the economic, environmental and civic impacts of sprawl, including traffic congestion, crowded schools, pollution, loss of open space, and decaying infrastructure. Many community leaders and local government officials have discovered that partnering with the private sector can be critical to addressing the challenges of sprawling development.

    The National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals and the Smart Growth Leadership Institute partnered to produce this report profiling 17 businesses and organizations that are putting smart growth into action revitalizing communities, improving quality of life and boosting the bottom line. Mike Ryan, Grow Smart's Chairman and Scott Wolf, Executive Director, serve on NALGEP's Smart Growth Business Partnership Advisory Council. Read more

    Download the 60-page report (876kb)

  • Legislative Update - bills to watch
    Economic Development / Brownfields / Vacant Property
    H 7647 - Industrial Property Remediation And Reuse Act
    This act would empower the Department of Environmental Management to streamline the permitting process for brownfield remediation projects.
    S 3089 - Mill Building And Economic Revitalization Act
    This act would reenact the Mill Building and Economic Revitalization Act which terminated by statute on August 8, 2003.
    H 8265 - An Act Relating To Taxation -- Tax Sales
    S 2741 - An Act Relating To Taxation -- Tax Sales
    These twin acts would allow municipalities to foreclose on the tax title for abandoned unimproved land.

    Affordable Housing
    H 8574 - An Act relating to Housing
    S 3148 - An Act relating to Housing
    These acts, which are identical, would make various amendments to the implementation of a statewide plan for providing safe and affordable housing to low and moderate income families, the elderly, and workers and their families.
    > Read Grow Smart's 6/1 testimony on these bills

    Education Finance Reform
    H 8318 - An act relating to Education Equity & Property Tax Relief
    This act would provide for education funding equity and property tax relief.

  • Study to Measure Fiscal and Economic Impact of the Commerical Historic Tax Credit
  •    Grow Smart believes that Rhode Island's 2002 Commercial Historic Tax Credit law has become a major generator of economic development, encouraging revitalization and investment where infrastructure already exists - in our city, town and village centers.

    According to a Summary Report prepared by the state agency that administers the tax credit program, more than 100 approved projects representing a combined investment of over $447 million are already resulting in new housing, jobs and state tax revenue, while also helping to spare thousands of "green" acres from development.

    However, a strong response to the program from developers has some state officials concerned about its short-term costs. For that reason, Grow Smart has commissioned an independent study and encourages the General Assembly not to propose any substantive changes until the final results are available in late summer or early fall.

    The study is being performed by Lipman Frizzell & Mitchell LLC, a Columbia, Maryland real estate consulting and appraisal firm with a specialization in tax credit cost/benefit analyses.

  • Open Space News
  •    Open Space Grant Round Just Announced
    The last $3.1 million in state funding for local open space preservation from the 2000 Open Space and Recreation Bond will be awarded this year. Land trusts, municipalities and nonprofits with a purpose of preserving open space are encouraged to apply by the deadline of August 31. Review the process and get an application.

    2004 Open Space & Recreation Bond to be decided
    Within the next several weeks of state budget debate, the RI General Assembly will determine the funding level for the 2004 Open Space & Recreation Bond. Grow Smart is part of a coalition recommending $60 million for open space and recreation - including farmland preservation.
    See how our recommendation compares to the Governor's

    Read Grow Smart's testimony before the House Finance Committee

  • Recognize planning excellence in your community

    Help recognize good planning in your community by nominating an individual, organization or project that exemplifies excellence in community planning. The Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association has announced a Call for Entries for its Ninth Annual Planning Awards and is accepting nominations until July 23.

    Call or email Bill Haas, RIAPA Awards Committee Chairman at 348-2550.

    > Read more about the entry categories
    > Download a one-page entry form

  • Smart Stuff

    Each month Grow Smart highlights a sampling of policy developments or other creative smart growth initiatives being implemented around Rhode Island and beyond. Do you have a story to tell? (click here to share it with us)

    Town adopts model ordinance for Village Planned Development
    Review the ordinance online

    Ordinance enacted to regulate "formula" chain businesses and protect town character
    > Read the news story
    > Read the ordinance online

  • New study links obesity with neighborhood design, drive time

    A comprehensive study by the Georgia Institute of Technology shows how the built environment clearly relates to a person's prospects for being overweight. People who live in neighborhoods with a mix of shops and businesses within easy walking distance are 7 percent less likely to be obese than people who live in conventional auto-dependent neighborhoods.

    The study, "Obesity Relationships with Community Design, Physical Activity, and Time Spent in Cars," published in the "American Journal of Preventive Medicine, also demonstrates a link between obesity and the amount of time spent in cars.

    "How we plan and build our communities not only affects air pollution and how much we drive, but also people's likelihood of being physically inactive and obese." observed James Chapman, co-director of the study.

    Read more

  •    Thursday, June 10 (7:00p)
    NBC-10 30-minute special examining Rhode Island's affordable housing crisis
    Reporter Mario Hilario will blend interviews with housing experts with the stories of three local families as they struggle with Rhode Island's skyrocketing housing costs.

    June 11-12 (4:00p - 6:00p)
    Northeast Annual Land Trust Conference
    Two days of workshops and field trips for land trust practioners, public agency professionals and allied conservationists.
    Sponsored by the Land Trust Alliance
    Saratoga Springs, NY

    Saturday, June 14, 21, 29 (5:30p - 9:00p)
    Making Good Land Use Decisions
    Municipal training workshop for officials in Glocester, Foster, Scituate and Coventry. Note: Officials who have attended training in the past and want to attend a make-up session can do so free of charge. If space permits, new registrants from other communities will also be welcome. Sponsored by Grow Smart. Download a registration form.

    July 15
    Deadline for Brownfields Grants
    Grants of up to $2 million per project are available for redevelopment activites at brownfield sites through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) Program. The toal amount available this year is $25.3 million.
    > Learn more about the BEDI grant program
    > Review last year's recipients, including Burrillville, RI

    Submit a "July/August Event" for next month's e-brief by clicking here

  • Online tool helps local officials, citizens manage growth

    The Vermont Forum on Sprawl in partnership with the Orton Family Foundation, has developed a sophisticated new online tool called Pathways to Planning that acts as an interactive "consultant" to citizens and local planners.

    The tool assesses your town's existing conditions, level of public involvement, and planning capacity by asking questions on a number of topics. It then generates commentary, advice and resources specifically matched to the needs of your community. The tool draws on a large database of resources, including downloadable files, web links, graphics and bibliographic resources, and has taken over a year to develop.

    Check it out FREE



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    345 South Main Street
    Providence RI 02903

    phone: 401-273-5711

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