Fostering Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place

What does it mean to foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place?

The Smart Growth Tenet: Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place that reflect the values, culture and vision of residents through the growth and history of their community.


Why is fostering distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place important?

Communities with a strong sense of place build on their unique history, identity and assets to foster community pride, increase social interaction and market their community to potential businesses and residents. The results can improve economic stability, increase property values and greatly impact the lives and memories of residents.

Urban sprawl is creating a new image for growing communities that is commonly referred to as “Anywhere USA.” The monotony of this sprawling development pattern moves people farther away from our town centers and from each other. The results have led to the loss of millions of acres of farmland and open space, disinvestment in our cities and decreases in social interaction, diversity and civic pride. To create a distinct image and maintain a sense of place, many communities are investing in their history as the foundation for new growth.


How do you apply this tenet to your community?

Investing in your community’s unique assets and history can create a situation where residents will become your greatest ally in guiding growth that benefits the entire community. Involving the public in planning decisions and community improvement projects is the first step in building a sense of place. While the greater public should be intimately involved in creating a vision for the community, it is the role of government officials to use the zoning ordinance, site plan review, capital improvement planning and state and federal assistance to make this vision a reality. Communities that are effective in implementing this tenet have consistent policies and regulations in place that create synergy between preservation efforts and new development and are always looking for ways to improve by building sense of place.

source: Best Practices for Planning and Zoning