Smart Growth e-Briefs
News and Tools For People Shaping Our Communities March 2011

Image of the Month
The Providence Journal / Connie Grosch
Main Street Mission

Governor Lincoln D. Chafee is joined by Woonsocket Mayor Leo Fontaine and RIEDC Director Keith Stokes on a tour of Main Street, Woonsocket on Monday, March 14.

The Governor has made it a priority for his administration to develop an "urban agenda" program to stimulate the revitalization of Rhode Island's urban, town and village centers. Among the ideas taking root is the restoration of a State Historic Tax Credit and a Main Street revitalization initiative that would provide incentives to improve building facades, make street and sidewalk improvements and provide access to capital for growing businesses.

Read more in Projo.com


Grow Smart Rhode Island

Board of Directors

Howard M. Kilguss

Chairman of the Board

Susan Arnold
William Baldwin
Daniel A. Baudouin
Samuel J. Bradner
Kenneth Burnett
Joseph Caffey
Robert L. Carothers
Jen Cookke
Trudy Coxe
Kristin A. DeKuiper
Dennis DiPrete
Stephen Durkee
Stephen J. Farrell
Michael L. Friedman
Wilfred L. Gates
John R. Gowell, Jr.
Akhil C. Gupta
Stanley J. Kanter
Jason E. Kelly
Dennis Langley
James Leach
Basil Lee
Stephen M. Maiorisi
Thomas V. Moses
Richard Schartner
Lucie G. Searle
Deming E. Sherman
Pamela M. Sherrill
John C. Simmons
Jonathan F. Stone
James F. Twaddell

Directors Emeritus

Arnold "Buff" Chace

Louise Durfee, Esq.
J. Joseph Garrahy
Michael S. Hudner
Michael F. Ryan
W. Edward Wood

Board Listing with Affiliation


Scott Wolf

Executive Director

Sheila Brush

Director of Programs

John Flaherty

Director of Research & Communications

Leslie Denomme

Executive Assistant for Finance

Dorothy Dauray

Office Assistant

Lauren Pendergast

Training Coordinator

Reducing Pavement

in Johnston

The Town of Johnston has approved an important zoning amendment that will make the town more competitive for economic development, reduce stormwater impacts and facilitate sustainable development.

At its February 17, 2011 meeting, the Town Council adopted revisions to the parking standards in the zoning code. Both minimum and maximum parking requirements have been established for office, retail and service business, dramatically reducing the potential for the large parking "fields" that have dominated retail construction in past decades.


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  • Grow Smart releases 12-Point
       Legislative & Policy Agenda for 2011
  • Agenda combines targeted investments with policy reforms to revitalize urban, town centers and improve cities' bottom lines. Also focuses on strengthening the agricultural sector, enhancing port capacity, reforming transportation funding and promoting housing affordability

    As Rhode Island strives to rebound from the severe recession, Grow Smart advances an "assets-based" 2011 Legislative & Policy Agenda that aims to achieve sustainable economic growth by building on Rhode Island's exceptional quality of place.

    The centerpiece of Grow Smart's 2011 agenda is an effort to restore a State Historic Tax Credit with provisions to help jump-start the state's economy, particularly the hard hit construction industry. The emerging restoration proposal seeks to address the concerns of critics of the original program by excluding private social clubs, emphasizing mixed use commercial/residential development projects, and reducing and stretching out the projected costs of the program while retaining sufficient incentives to transform vacant and underutilized historic buildings throughout the state into economic development engines for our neighborhoods. A bill is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.

    Other highlights include:

    • Transportation: Enact the Transportation Investment & Debt Reduction Act (H-5789 / S-148)
    • Economic Development: Provide an incentive - and a means to jump-start economic development at the local level by amending the property tax levy cap law (H-5496)
    • Zoning: Amending Zoning Enabling Act to better facilitate mixed-use redevelopment (H-5372 / S-306)
    • Planning: Improve and simplify the Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Act by reducing regulatory red tape and encouraging greater collaboration between the State Planning Office and municipalities (H-5380 / S-21)

    Download our complete 2011 Legislative & Policy Agenda

  • Transportation funding reform takes
       center stage at April 6th forum
  • Grow Smart's Scott Wolf to moderate panel of national and local experts for a briefing about how Rhode Island can best achieve and sustain a 21st century transportation system, so vital to the health of our economy and environment

    Governor Chafee, Senate President Paiva-Weed and House Speaker Fox are inviting fellow elected officials, business and civic leaders and community stakeholders to a panel forum entitled "A Wake-up Call to Action: Rhode Island's Transportation Funding Crisis". It will take place on Wednesday, April 6th, 1:00 -3:00 p.m. at the Rhode Island Convention Center.

    The forum is sponsored by the Coalition for Transportation Choices (CTC), the URI Transportation Center and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

    Panelists include former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening and former PENNDOT Secretary Allen Biehler (both representing the Smart Growth America Leadership Institute); RIDOT Director and RIPTA Board Member Michael P. Lewis; Jack Basso, COO, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO); John Simmons, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council and Sheila Dormody, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Transportation Choices.

    Friends of Grow Smart are invited to attend.

    Please R.S.V.P. to John Flaherty. Reservations are required.

    Governor Chafee, RIDOT vow to reduce transportation related borrowing

    Administration advances budget proposal to wean state from biennial bonding to fix roads and bridges

    RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis stood with Governor Chafee below the Pawtucket River Bridge on Monday, March 15th to urge support for the Administration's proposal to reduce RIDOT reliance on bonded debt for transportation projects. (click image to view clip)

    For many years Rhode Island has borrowed millions to raise its share of the cost for road and bridge repairs. And now the annual debt service obligation ($43.7 million for FY '11), is choking off the department's ability to perform routine maintenance. To reduce - and eventually eliminate - costly borrowing, the administration proposes to gradually transfer certain DMV related receipts from the state's General Fund directly to RIDOT.

    Read more in Projo.com

    Alternatively, the 45-member Coalition for Transportation Choices (CTC) is advancing a different proposal to achieve many of the same objectives through the TRANSPORTATION INVESTMENT & DEBT REDUCTION ACT OF 2011 (H-5789 / S-148). Among the differences: the CTC approach would allocate resources through a trust fund to RIDOT (50%), transit (35%) and municipalities (15%) - whereas the Administration's proposal would only target funding to RIDOT, and do so without creating a separate transportation trust fund.

    Read more at RICTC.org

  • RIPTA unveils 5-Year Strategic Plan
  • Despite funding challenges, RIPTA Board recognizes that a well-thought out plan is a necessary first step to realizing a bold vision for the future of transit in Rhode Island

    With input from passengers and community stakeholders, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) Board has adopted a 5-Year Strategic Plan for making transit a convenient, cost-effective and viable transportation option for more Rhode Islanders. Grow Smart's own John Flaherty serves on RIPTA's Strategic Planning Committee.

    The Board recognizes that investing in a 21st century transit system is increasingly seen by business and civic leaders as an important key to Rhode Island's ability to effectively compete in a 21st century economy.

    The plan outlines a series of actions to better serve existing passengers, enhance service to attract more riders, and to help local municipalities and private businesses realize desired economic growth. It also identifies opportunities to pursue additional local support, more sustainable long-term funding and presents a clear vision for how best to invest limited resources. For more information, contact Amy Pettine, Special Projects Manager at RIPTA (401) 784-9500, ext. 216.

    Access the Executive Summary or Full Report here

  • 2011 Land & Water Conservation Summit
  • Saturday, March 26, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the URI Memorial Union, Kingston

    This day-long conference provides Watershed Council, Land Trust, and Conservation Commission board members, staff, volunteers, Municipal Commission members and others interested in land and watershed conservation with the information, skills and connections you need to be effective. Choose from over 25 Workshops offered during the Summit on many aspects of land and water conservation.

    Keynote Speaker: Steve Sloan, Greater Boston Regional Director, The Trustees of Reservations will discuss "Connecting People to Place and Your Conservation Mission".

    Sponsored by the RI Land Trust Council, Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and the RI Association of Conservation Commissions.

    Register online at the Rhode Island Land and Water Partnership

  • 26th Annual Rhode Island Statewide
       Historic Preservation Conference
  • Saturday, April 30th, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Block Island, RI

    The RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission is preparing for Destination Block Island: Tourism and Community in a Historic Place--the 26th Annual Rhode Island Statewide Historic Preservation Conference--on Saturday, April 30th with additional activities on Friday and Sunday.

    Choose from 12 workshops that look at such topics as installing windmills in historic places, preserving underwater shipwrecks, and operating historic hotels. Or take a tour of conservation land and farms, historic Old Harbor, resort hotels, summer cottages, and distinctive lighthouses.

    Arrive early on the evening of Friday April 29th and attend Portraying Place, Preserving Place: A Block Island Conversation to discuss the island's visual character with artist Gretchen Dow Simpson, advocate Gerald Abbott, and RIHPHC Executive Director Ted Sanderson.

    Or stay late on Sunday May 1st, explore the island on your own and seek out some of the additional activities being offered by the Town's Block Island 350th Anniversary Committee.

    Click HERE to review the full program and register.

  • EPA seeks applications for National
       Smart Growth Achievement Awards
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pleased to announce that the application period for the 10th annual National Award for Smart Growth Achievement is now open. Through this award, EPA recognizes and supports communities that have successfully used smart growth principles to improve communities environmentally, socially, and economically. Open to public- and private-sector entities (although all applications must include a public-sector partner), winners will be recognized at a ceremony in Washington, DC, in December 2011.

    Applications are due April 6, 2011. Awards will be given in the categories of Programs, Policies, and Regulations; Smart Growth and Green Building; Civic Places; and Rural Smart Growth. An "Overall Excellence" winner will be chosen from the four categories by the review panels.

    To view the application and complete entry guidelines, please click HERE

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