Highwood leaders learn how new workbook can help city achieve its growth goals - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Highwood leaders learn how new workbook can help city achieve its growth goals

Workbook offers advice for attracting proposals that serve local resident and businesses

(Highwood , Ill.) … Elected and appointed officials, business leaders, residents, and other partners in community development in Highwood learned how a hands-on workbook, Sensible Tools for Healthy Communities , can help the city attract development proposals that expand opportunities for all residents and businesses.

The free workshop featured an interactive planning game to illustrate how the workbook can help Highwood decision makers base their review of development proposals on the city’s comprehensive plan and other established guidelines for growth. For instance, Highwood leaders have committed to preserving and expanding the city’s stock of affordable homes for both buyers and renters. As new residential development proposals come before local leaders, Sensible Tools recommends Highwood be up front with potential developers about this long-term goal.

"My colleagues and I have been working to explore policies and programs to expand housing opportunities for all of our Highwood residents, and Sensible Tools for Healthy Communities re-enforces our initiative by recommending we assert clear guidelines for developers interested in doing business in Highwood,” said Highwood Ald. Margaret Ronzani. “Understanding the planning process and incorporating housing at a variety of price points are assets for communities throughout the Chicago region.”

Indeed, the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus originated the idea for a workbook to offer local leaders guidance in applying its groundbreaking Housing Endorsement Criteria, which help communities attract, identify and support housing that is well managed and well designed, near jobs and public transit, and affordable to the local workforce. The Mayors Caucus partnered with the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) and Campaign for Sensible Growth to produce the Sensible Tools workbook as a hands-on tool to help community leaders and developers make decisions on individual development proposals within the context of the community’s needs. In a handy, customizable format, the workbook has become a popular planning tool across the region.

“More and more, local leaders are aware that their development decisions will affect not only their hometowns, but the entire region,” said Joanna Trotter, manager of MPC’s Community Building Initiative. “The Sensible Tools workbook is a great resource for local officials in communities like Highwood working to make sound decisions about their future growth.”

During the workshop, each table of participants acted out a different part – community members, plan commission, developers, and media – in a role-playing game, using the workbook as a guide to solve a realistic residential development dilemma. As the game progressed, Michael Davidson, manager of the Campaign for Sensible Growth, and Trotter pointed out how each group might tap the workbook’s three sections for guidance. The introduction presents sensible growth principles and techniques, allowing users to evaluate whether a proposed project makes good sense. Part 1 is a series of questions to help local officials evaluate requests for five types of events that typically trigger public hearings, such as zoning amendments or annexation of development sites. Part 2 offers helpful guidance for improving projects so that they better achieve community objectives and sensible growth principles.

Spiral-bound and CD-ROM editions of the Sensible Tools workbook are available by contacting Davidson at 312-863-6009 or mdavidson@growingsensibly.org. The workbook also is available for download, free of charge, at the Campaign for Sensible Growth’s Web site, www.growingsensibly.org /sensibletools.

The workbook was funded by: Grand Victoria Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Allstate Foundation, Bank One, and Bank of America. MPC undertook work on this project as part of its Regional Action Agenda, of which the Campaign for Sensible Growth is a component. Funders include The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, McCormick Tribune Foundation, and Aon Corporation.

The Campaign for Sensible Growth is an action-oriented coalition of government, civic, and business leaders in northeastern Illinois’ six counties (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will) working to promote economic development while preserving open space, minimizing the need for costly new infrastructure and improving the livability of our communities.

The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus provides a forum through which the chief elected officials of the region cooperatively develop consensus and act on common public policy issues and multi-jurisdictional challenges. With a foundation of collaboration and consensus-based decision making, it serves a number of functions for its partner organizations and local governments.

Founded in 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders committed to serving the public interest through the promotion and implementation of sensible planning and development policies necessary for an economically competitive Chicago region. MPC researches and develops policy recommendations and conducts outreach and advocacy in partnership with public officials and community leaders to enhance equity of opportunity and quality of life throughout metropolitan Chicago.

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