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

An Image of Smart Growth
Boesch Farm, East Greenwich

What's your favorite image of smart 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 Affilliation


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

Dear John,

You're among the 2,086 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.

  • A growing number of homebuyers favor shorter commutes, walkable neighborhoods
  • The prospect of lengthening commutes is leading more Americans to seek walkable neighborhoods in cities and close-in suburbs, according to the 2004 American Community Survey sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America.

    Among people planning to buy a house in the next three years, 87 percent selected a shorter commute as a very or somewhat important factor in deciding where to live. Asked to choose between two communities, six in ten prospective homebuyers chose a neighborhood that offered a shorter commute, sidewalks and amenities like shops, restaurants, libraries, schools and public transportation within walking distance over a sprawling community with larger lots and limited options for walking and a longer commute.

    These results provide some insight into current discussions in Rhode Island about growth and development trends, affordable housing and transportation priorities.

    Read more about the policy implications for Rhode Island

  • Candidates' Briefing Book expected to influence policy debate long after elections
  • There are strong indications that Grow Smart's recently released Candidates' Briefing Book entitled A Strategy for Saving Rhode Island From Sprawl and Urban Decay, will be used as a resource for affecting positive change at the state and local level long after the dust settles on the November elections.

    "It's encouraging that we've received feedback from winning candidates who intend to utilize the issue briefs to influence the public policy debate on issues such as economic development, neighborhood revitalization and property tax reform", said Grow Smart Executive Director Scott Wolf.

    Among the topics covered are:

    Economic Development

  • Big victory for Open Space, Recreation & Clean Water
  • On election day, Rhode Island voters provided an overwhelming mandate for Question 8, the Open Space, Recreation, Bay and Watershed Protection Bond Issue. Even though the $70 million measure was surrounded on the ballot by several other big ticket bond items totaling more than $300 million, it passed with almost 71% of the vote, the most resounding approval of any of the 12 spending proposals on the state ballot.

    See how your community voted

    Efforts to preserve Rhode Island's outstanding "Quality of Place" were further enhanced on election day by the passage of local open space bonds in Middletown, Smithfield, South Kingstown and Warwick.

    In a related development, Governor Carcieri announced on October 26th the awarding of $3.86 million in grants to towns and land trusts that will help conserve 1,541 acres in 15 projects across the state. The money is the last of the $34 million in open-space bonds approved by voters four years ago. Read the article

  • Special PCJ issue on Schools and Planning
  • "Creating more neighborhood schools is one of the most important avenues for advancing quality of life ... It makes sense from a learning standpoint, an economic standpoint, and it makes sense if you want to have schools that are part of a community's fabric as opposed to part of its sprawl."

    Those words by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford reflect the growing challenge facing both planners and school officials: how to make today's schools an integral part of the community.

    The just published Fall issue of the Planning Commissioners Journal (PCJ) focuses on schools and planning. It provides an excellent introduction to some of the issues facing citizens interested in ensuring that the siting and design of schools advances both smart growth and educational goals.

    Review the articles

  • Home Builders to recognize innovation in workforce housing
  • Builders, architects, designers, developers, and land planners... enter your development for the 2004 Innovation in Workforce Housing Awards and earn national recognition for your company. Developments are eligible if they were completed or if their first unit was occupied or opened between Jan. 1, 2002 and Oct. 29, 2004. Entries are due Nov. 19.

    Sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, the Innovation in Workforce Housing Awards (IWFHA) are designed to recognize outstanding examples of workforce housing developments across the nation that provide decent and affordable homes for nurses, police officers, schoolteachers, retail workers, and other key members of the workforce near areas in which they work.

    Find out more

  • Smart Stuff
  • Providence

    South Kingstown

  • New England Smart Growth Leaders Share Strategies
  • A delegation of Rhode Islanders, including Grow Smart Executive Director Scott Wolf and officials from DEM, the Statewide Planning Office and the Economic Policy Council joined about 40 other smart growth advocates from throughout New England for an all day smart growth leadership forum last month at the Lincoln Land Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Much of the discussion centered on fiscal tools to fight sprawl, including comprehensive property tax reform; a successful split rate tax concept assigning a higher tax rate on land than buildings; current use assessment for open space land; land conservation bond issues; and reform of state and federal aid formulas that encourage sprawl. Rhode Island was singled out by UNH Professor Richard England for having the best current use tax assessment policy of the 6 New England states.

    An innovative means of encouraging smart growth oriented affordable housing development in Massachusetts was also outlined by Northeastern University Professor Barry Bluestone.

    - Review Richard England's presentation

  • Friday, November 12

    EPA is accepting proposals for brownfields assessment, revolving loan fund and cleanup grants. These grants are part of the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize Brownfield sites.

    Tuesday, November 16 (9:00a-1:00p)

    Planning for the Future of the Farm
    With complicated tax and inheritance laws, development pressure, and a struggling farm economy, transferring a farm to the next generation is not always easy. This workshop is designed to offer specific information and practical advice to farmers. The tax implications and conservation strategies to protect land from development will be addressed by expert speakers.
    $10 per person - includes lunch
    Sponsored by Trustees of Reservations
    Shelburne Grange Hall
    Shelburne, MA
    Registration: (413) 268-8219 or email

    Tuesday, November 30 (11:30a - 5:30p)

    This workshop has been developed in response to requests from municipal planners. It is designed to provide participants with a detailed overview of key zoning strategies and to give participants an understanding of the relationship between density and development costs.
    Sponsored by The Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way of Rhode Island.
    Crowne Plaza at the Crossings

    Monday, December 6 (10:30a - 12:30p)

    Features speakers to include:
    Kip Bergstrom, Exec. Dir., RI Economic Policy Council
    Scott Wolf, Exec. Dir., Grow Smart RI
    Michael McMahon, Director, RI Economic Development Corporation
    Barbara Fields Karlin, Senior Program Director, RI Local Initiative Support Corporation
    Mathew Murray, Professor of Business and Associate Director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville
    Sponsored by the Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College.

    December 6-7 (8:30a - 5:00p)

    Visioning has become an accepted technique to build broad-based agreement on goals and strategies for the future of a neighborhood, city or region. When used with visualization techniques, visioning is a powerful tool for making informed decisions on the physical quality of future development. This course defines principles for effective visioning, reviews three case studies, and includes a hands-on workshop that demonstrates visioning and visualization techniques in a realistic situation.
    Sponsored by the Lincoln Land Institute
    Cambridge, MA

    Wednesday, December 8 (8:30a - 5:00p)

    As smart growth initiatives gain momentum across the country, one of the persistent obstacles to compact development is the public's aversion to density. Misplaced concerns over density often prevent the construction of urban infill projects or the revision of zoning regulations that would allow for compact growth. This workshop offers planners, designers and community development officials specific tools for understanding the link between urban design and residential density. Using aerial photography and computer graphics, the program explores how various design approaches accommodate different levels of density.
    Sponsored by the Lincoln Land Institute
    Cambridge, MA

    :: 401-273-5711

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