Urban Tree Planting (Part 1): Site Selection


Site selection is the first, important step to make when planting trees in an urban environment. Quality sites have a higher probability of supporting long-lived and healthy trees, whereas poorly chosen sites produce poorer-quality trees. Urban environments are challenging for tree survival. They often contain soil contaminants, air pollution, high velocity wind, compacted and poorly aerated soil, higher temperatures, altered soil drainage, and small planting areas. Considering these challenges, choosing the best site for planting is critical for optimal growth …

Community Planning and Zoning Professional Webinar Presentations

Utility Scale Wind Energy Development – Module 2 Sitting Issues and Concerns


November 21st, 2013


Wayne Beyea, Extension Specialist within the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Planning, Design and Construction.



Utility Scale Wind Energy Development – Module 1 Business Development


October 17th, 2013


Eric Romich, Ohio State University Extension Field Specialist for Energy Development



Utility Scale Wind Energy Development


September 12th, 2013


Eric Romich, Ohio State University Extension Field Specialist for Energy …

Placemaking: A Tool for Rural and Urban Communities

In late 2011, West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (WCWRPC) applied for and was awarded a Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This was one of only 10 grants awarded throughout the United States. The grant allowed WCWRPC to partner with the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) to conduct placemaking exercises in two local communities. This article provides an overview of placemaking and summarizes the results of a local placemaking exercise.

What is Placemaking?

How Close Must Food Be Grown to Be Considered “Local”?

Unlike organic food, there is no legal or universally accepted definition of local food. In part, it is a geographical concept related to the distance between food producers and consumers. In addition to geographic proximity of producer and consumer, however, local food can also be defined in terms of social and supply chain characteristics.

In terms of defining distance, opinions are quite varied. Distances that are perceived to constitute local may vary by region. Population density is important because what …

What are the Differences between Mobility, Accessibility, and Connectivity in Transportation Planning?


Mobility is the ability and level of ease of moving goods and services. Some examples of mobility include: Interstate highways providing designated truck lanes to increase the overall amount of goods transported; Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems with bus only lanes that increases the efficiency of moving people while removing automobiles from the roads.  Congestion Management Systems are the trend in mobility due to the lack of funds and the land constraints to keep expanding the transit system infinitely. These …

Sustainable Communities: A Local Systems Approach to Planning

Course Information

This course is intended for all Extension professionals and public officials interested in community development and sustainability topics. The course will provide you with a systems perspective of community sustainability looking through the lens of some of the common topics that communities are facing today– energy, local food, built environments, mobility, natural resources, community capacity, and economic development. 

This Sustainable Communities course was previously a training program created by a task force of the North Central Regional Center

Compact Design

Compact building design allows communities to be designed in a way that preserves more open space and makes more efficient use of land and resources. By encouraging buildings to grow vertically rather than horizontally, and by incorporating structured rather than surface parking, for example, communities can reduce the footprint of new construction and preserve more green space (Smart Growth Online).

Compact building design simply means using the least amount of land for development and supporting infrastructure that is reasonable under …

Current Issues Related to the Sustainability of the Built Environment

There are many current issues that affect the long term sustainability of the built environment. From a land use standpoint, the way the U.S. has developed around sprawl and the automobile has become an issue with sustainability.  For example, the separation of uses as the predominate pattern of development after W.W. II  has increased the use of energy for transporation of people and goods in turn putting more strain on the environment. 

The built environment has a dramatic impact on …

Fee Simple Ownership and Land Use Rights

‘‘Fee Simple Ownership’’ is a form of real property ownership in which a property owner unconditionally controls a specified piece of land, including all structures and rights to use the property. It is the most complete interest in real property someone can have. The term is also used as ‘fee simple absolute’.

Fee simple ownership has both geographic and temporal dimensions. The term not only conveys control over the three dimensions of property – across the surface and extending within …

Land Use in the Wildland-Urban Interface: Urban Sprawl and Smart Growth


As urban populations grow and more people want privacy and greenspace, development inevitably creeps beyond city limits into natural and agricultural areas, creating the wildland-urban interface. The wildland-urban interface is an area of changing land uses – often an increasing amount of development leading to increasingly fragmented natural areas. If the development occurs without consideration for infrastructure, commercial needs, efficient transportation options, or quality of life, it can degrade rather than enhance the nearby community. Without considering …