2013 Workshops:  State and Local Government Regulatory Barriers to Complete Communities in Delaware

As a follow up to a Complete Communities Delaware 2012 Summit panel discussion by members of the Delaware development community, IPA is hosting a series of workshops in 2013 on “State and Local Government Regulatory Barriers to Complete Communities in Delaware.” The purpose is to gain input from invited stakeholders on what are perceived to be top regulatory obstacles to development projects in Delaware and how these barriers may be addressed.

Workshops have been/will be held at the University of Delaware Paradee Center in Dover, Delaware from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  For more information, please see the workshop flyer

Planning for Complete Communities in Delaware Reports

IPA has published electronic copies of Complete Communities reports as follows:

Proximity to Public Transit Boosts Home Values
A new study from the Center for Neighborhood Technology affirms that homes located near public transportation maintain their property values better than homes without transit access.  The study found that residential property values hold their value 42 percent better on average if located within a half-mile of public transportation that has high-frequency service. Studies have also shown that consumers are willing to pay more for housing located in areas that exemplify new urbanist principles or are “traditional neighborhood developments.” These neighborhoods are walkable, higher density, and have a mix of uses as well as access to jobs and amenities such as transit.

2012 Summit featured in March 2013 Realtor Party News

The Complete Communities Delaware 2012 Summit was featured in the March 14, 2013 edition of Realtor Party News, the bi-weekly newsletter published by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The Delaware Association of REALTORS® co-sponsored the 2012 Summit thanks to a Smart Growth Grant from NAR.

“Designing Cities” conference recently held in NYC by NACTO

Designing Cities: Leading the Way to World Class Streets was a two-day conference (October 24th – 26th, 2012) organized by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) & NYU Wagner Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management and was held in New York City. This conference marks an opportunity to crystallize and accelerate the transportation programs and priorities of major cities around the US. Attendees were exposed to topics including innovative financing for transportation infrastructure, new guidelines for urban street design, parking pricing and management, and transit-oriented development, as well as a series of walking tours that showcase New York City’s living laboratory of sustainable street design projects.

SSE and America Walks Launch

Sam Schwartz Engineering, the transportation engineering and planning firm, and America Walks, the national pedestrian advocacy organization, are proud to announce the launch of This new website is the online home of their new guide, Steps to a Walkable Community: A Guide for Citizens, Planners, and Engineers, which features pro-walking tactics and case studies that have successfully improved and encouraged walking in communities around North America. builds off the enthusiastic response to the Steps to a Walkable Community guide. features tactics that tackle the challenges to walking from multiple approaches, including advocacy, land use, policy, design and engineering, encouragement, and enforcement. The site also allows online visitors to gather tactics and case studies into multidisciplinary bundles that can be emailed and shared with colleagues. The Steps to a Walkable Community guide and website will be the basis for the America Walks’ Walking Action Network program series.

STAR Community Rating System (STAR)

In 2007, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Center for American Progress launched the concept for the STAR Community Rating System (STAR) at GREENBUILD in Chicago, IL. By 2008, they had established a formal partnership that included the National League of Cities to develop STAR. Their mission: to address the needs of U.S. cities, towns and counties seeking a common framework for sustainability. STAR is the nation’s first voluntary, self-reporting framework for evaluating, quantifying, and improving the livability and sustainability of U.S. communities. STAR uniquely combines: A framework for sustainability encompassing the social, economic and environmental dimensions of community; A rating system that drives continuous improvement and fosters competition; and an online system that gathers, organizes, analyzes, and presents information required to meet sustainability goals.

DelDOT to launch “See it Both Ways” public education campaign

BikeDelaware reported on the 4thAnnual 2012 Delaware Bike Summit , which occurred on September 7th and brought  together bicycling advocates, community leaders and elected officials to hear from national speakers and to create strategies on how to make Delaware more bicycle friendly. The Keynote Speaker was Andy Clarke, executive director of The League of American Bicyclists. DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara provided updates on the First State Trails and Pathways Initiative. DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt unveiled DelDOT’s new initiative – a public education campaign that will now be a part of drivers license exams.

Pentagon’s Goal: Walkable Military Bases

An article written by Federal Times on May 18, 2012 reports: At military installations, suburban-style sprawl is out and walkable communities are in under new planning guidelines issued by the Defense Department that call for “compact development.”

Cities Considering Uses for Aged Industrial Plants

This article from the Wilmington News Journal highlights a growing problem facing many Rust Belt communities: What can be done with massive, often-derelict industrial and transportation structures? Tearing them down can cost municipalities millions and redevelopment can be even costlier. Holding festivals at these sites have allowed  cities to give the public a glimpse of what some consider America’s “ruins” and showcase current preservation efforts.

Historic Preservation has a Variety of Benefits to the Community

UDaily published an article entitled, Masterful Masonry: University Dedicates Brick Learning Wall Showcase Near Bookstore on April 17, 2012 about a newly constructed brick learning wall that graces the west side of the Newark Opera House and showcases 35 different kinds of brick patterns. During the demolition of the adjoining bank, contractors found that the concrete wall of the bank building could not be removed without destroying the structural integrity of the Opera House wall. This created an opportunity to incorporate the physical part of architecture into a design that also invites research and learning. It can be referred to as a classic case of “making lemonade out of lemons.”

Trend toward Reduced Driving among America’s Youth

A new report released in April 2012 by the NJPIRG Law and Policy Center demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, More Americans are demanding walkable, compact communities that offer a variety of transportation options. Funding for transit, biking and walking projects will need to keep pace with rising demand.

The report shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives. Factors contributing toward the trend of reduced driving among use include greater reliance on communication technology, driver’s license restrictions, increased fuel prices, environmental concerns, and preference to live in urban areas with transit.

Placemaking and Economic Growth

This new report by the MSU Land Policy Institute examines Michigan placemaking projects that attract growth through the education of relevant stakeholders, transformation of policies, removal of barriers and creation of incentives. The report also shares strategies and case studies of how other cities have dealt with these challenges.

Report Links Economic/Cultural Vibrancy with Lower Emissions

The Mineta Transportation Institute has published a new research report entitled, The Impact of Center City Economic and Cultural Vibrancy on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, that concludes lower greenhouse gas emissions from reduced driving and greater public transit use are associated with more vibrant downtowns.

Environmental and Economic Value of Reusing Buildings

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently reported on the environmental and economic value of reusing buildings, in contrast to building new “green” or energy-efficient buildings, at a Preservation Green Lab press conference in January 2012.

 CNU’s Sustainable Street Network Booklet

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) has compiled a set of principles and key characteristics into an easy-to-read and downloadable Sustainable Street Network Principles booklet. The booklet advocates that streets should be designed to play three simultaneous roles—that of a transportation thoroughfare, a commercial marketplace, and a public space. Illustrated within the booklet are seven principles of street network planning aimed at maximizing the value of nearby neighborhoods.

 Biking and Walking Benchmarking Report

The Alliance for Biking and Walking has released a 2012 Benchmarking Report:  Biking and Walking in the United States. The report affirms that bicycling and walking benefit public health, the environment, and economies. While many states and local governments are making strides to promote biking and walking, more investment, education, and public policies are needed.  The Alliance recommends that government officials and advocates use the benchmarking report to measure their progress toward increasing transportation options and evaluate the results of their efforts.

 Delaware Receives Biking/Walking Recognition

Delaware wins national recognition when awarded the Winning Campaign of the Year by the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

 Article Highlights Complete Communities publicizes new IPA Complete Communities pilot project in cooperation with the City of Milford.

What is a Complete Street?

Dan Burden, a champion for walkability and Complete Streets has issued a post on AARP’s blog regarding Complete Streets as a necessity for all generations.  Burden states, “If we invest in complete streets now, then not only will we all be happier and healthier as we age, but one day our children will thank us — especially if they don’t have to drive across town, or even a few blocks, to help us across the street.”

IPA’s New Complete-Streets Related Publications

The University of Delaware IPA has two new Complete-Streets related publications that are now available onlineComplete Streets in Delaware: A Guide for Local Governments is intended to help Delaware local governments achieve complete streets in order to provide more balance transportation systems and create healthy, livable environments for motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Winter Maintenance of Pedestrian Facilities in Delaware:  A Guide for Local Governments describes how Delaware local governments can improve sidewalk snow removal and winter-maintenance practices in order to foster walking as a year-round activity and safe mode of transportation.

Communities Learn that the “Good Life” can be a Killer

A recent New York Times article indicates that our “built environment” — where we live, work, play and shop — has become a leading cause of disability and death in the 21st century.  An auto-centric society, and lack of walkable, bikable, and public transportation options, was noted as one reason for rising chronic diseases.

Community Preference Survey

The National Association of Realtors 2011 Community Preference Survey explores Americans’ wants regarding neighborhood characteristics such as proximity to parks and shopping, walkability, and commuting time, and the trade-offs in home type and size that people may be willing to accept in order to obtain those neighborhood preferences.

On Common Ground

The National Association of Realtors publishes On Common Ground twice yearly to focus on topics of Smart Growth, including enhancing the existing assets of a community, the long-term implications of various development patterns, and the fiscal impacts of these patterns.  The following issues focus on:

  • Sustainable Housing, including the need for affordable housing
  • The New Norm, which describes how the real estate market is evolving toward a new normal marked by growing urbanization, greater sustainability, and more transportation choices
  • Placemaking and Economic Development details the economic importance of place and how “placemaking” is being used as an economic development strategy.  Cities are finding that providing ap­pealing places where people can interact — parks, plazas, main streets, markets — can spur economic prosperity and jobs.
  • Megatrends for the Decade highlights changes in demographics and consumer behavior—characterized as a cultural and demographic shift away from suburban sprawl—that will impact transportation preferences and real estate market demands.

21st Century Housing Preferences  

This publication examines a growing preference to live, work, and play in mixed-use and walkable urban environments and the revival of suburban downtowns, also known as “boutique cities.” Driving this trend is the recent mortgage crisis, collapse in housing market, and change in market preferences.  The publication notes that there is a growing demand for new housing located in walkable, transit-served suburban downtowns and a fading demand for detached houses on a large suburban lots.

Walkability Raises Housing Values

A recent report, “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities,” shows a positive correlation between walkability and housing prices in 13 of the 15 housing market studied.  The study used a Walk Score measure, which reflects the convenience and proximity of having shopping and cultural activities near residential neighborhoods and mixed-use developments. For each one-point increase in a Walk Score, a $500 to $3,000 increase in home values was realized.  The study concludes that there is clearly a market demand for walkable neighborhoods and should be regarded as a measure of urban vitality.

How Urban Planning Can Improve Public Health

Big-box commercial jumble, lifeless cul-de-sac subdivisions, urban sprawl, deteriorated downtowns, and traffic jams aren’t just sickening sites, but literally may be making Americans sick.  There is a growing body of evidence that suggests how places are designed and built can cause and complicate grave health problems for individuals and whole populations.  This article illustrates examples of how strategies such as New Urbanism and health-focused design solutions can promote walkability, mixed use, connectivity and civic space within communities.


“What Makes a Complete Community?” – 2012 MD-DE APA Conference

More than 240 professional planners from Maryland, Delaware, and beyond gathered together for two days in October 2012 at the 2012 MD-DE Regional APA Conference. These dedicated individuals came to hone their trade, get re-certification training, and generally share best practices. MDP had the opportunity to interview a few of the leaders of this conference. The question was the same as the theme of the conference: “What Makes a Community?

WHYY-Video, “Interview with Governor Markell….While Bicycling!”

A WHYY TV video segment, “Gov. Markell on-bike interview,” aired on May 18, 2012. This video features Governor Markell talking with WHYY’s Mark Eichmann during a ride along Route 9 near Port Penn in support of the Bike to Work movement.

WHYY-Video, “Exercise by Accident”

A WHYY TV video segment, “Exercise by Accident,” was recently aired on its weekly show First for Friday. The video features Delaware Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, who explains how the Delaware Coalition for Healthy Eating and Active Living (DE HEAL) is working to increase physical activity and walkable communities. University of Delaware IPA Planner B.J. DeCoursey details how better community design can help people “exercise by accident.”   IPA’s online and downloadable Walkability Assessment Tool was touted as a resource that can be used by Delaware municipalities to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a town’s walkability.

Preview of Video Series: Designing Healthy Communities

This video provides an overview of the Designing Healthy Communities video series, featuring Dr. Richard Jackson and produced by the Media and Policy Center (MPC). The series focuses on how poor community design and sprawl has given rise to burgeoning health costs and serious public health issues.  The video highlights four episodes—retrofitting suburbia, rebuilding places of the heart, social policy in concrete, and searching for Shangri La.  The series provides a vision for building healthier communities and features communities that have succeeded in creating healthier living environments.

The Designing Healthy Communities four-part series will also be featured on WHYY, Sundays at 2:30 p.m. beginning May 6, see:  PBS stations airing series.

Where the Sidewalk Begins, a Designing Healthy Communities video, features Dan Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

In this video, Burden conducts a walkability audit and assessment to demonstrate  how a community can be better designed for pedestrians.

Say Goodbye to the McMansion!

This video features the Builder Concept Home 2010, a virtual home that showcases a “new home for the new economy.”  The American dream of owning a McMansion is being replaced with a desire to live in a smaller, more compact home with greater energy efficiency and livable space.  A companion article questions, “Is the McMansion Era Gone for Good?”