Smart Growth Awards

Application

Criteria

Awarded Projects

Project Evaluation Review Criteria - Version 70818

Criteria Levels

Two types of criteria are considered in reviewing a proposed project. First, a project must meet all of the base or threshold criteria. Second, projects meeting these five base criteria are then reviewed against detailed criteria or standards. A set of questions tailored to each criterion will help a project’s sponsor to determine to what degree a proposed or existing project meets the literal standards of each major criterion as well as the collective Smart Growth spirit of the project.


I. Base Criteria (Prequalifying Standards):

At a minimum, a proposed project must meet all of these standards:

A. Location: The project must be in an area designated or appropriate for growth or revitalization, most particularly for infill development or sites adjacent or close to developed residential or commercial areas. It should take advantage of existing or short-term planned community or public water and sewer service, and should be accessible to existing or short-term planned public transportation.

B. Density, Design, and Diversity of Uses: The three Ds of good, smart growth development must be present, either within the proposed project or in the vicinity. That is, a project or an area must have sufficient density and scale to support a mix of uses, walkability, and public transit. The project should be designed so that it is integrated into the existing community fabric.

C. Transportation/Mobility/Accessibility: The project should be designed, located, and programmed to offer alternatives to single occupant vehicle trips in multi-occupant designed vehicles, by enabling safe and effective pedestrian, bicycle and other low speed personal vehicles access to multiple land use activities and areas including accessibility to public transportation connections.

D. Environment: The project should effectively protect, conserve, or mitigate damage to open space, water, and air quality, and important ecosystem components.

E. Community Assets and Participation: The project should generate benefits for the surrounding area and the host community. These may include positive economic impacts, affordable housing, support for the school system, historic preservation, public access to parks or open space, support for local efforts to encourage alternative transportation, adaptive reuse of obsolete buildings, or other improvements to the quality of community life.


II. Detail Review Standards

Following are the criteria that all selected projects must meet. Each criterion is accompanied by several questions. While not all projects must address all of the questions, a preponderance of positive answers will be required to win recognition.

A. Location. Base Criteria: The project must be in an area designated or appropriate for growth or revitalization, most particularly for infill development or sites adjacent or close to developed residential or commercial areas. It should take advantage of existing or short-term planned community or public water and sewer service, and should be accessible to public transportation.

1. Is the project in an area designated for growth, in-fill, adaptive reuse, intensification, or revitalization by the appropriate comprehensive plan or specific area development or policy plan.

2. Is the project a redevelopment or renovation on a site with previous disturbance?

3. Is the site within or adjacent to a city or town, or is it within a designated town center or village area and will it effectively connect to a neighborhood, community, or town center, or is it a large development with a density that can support a balanced mix of employment, retail, entertainment and residential uses such that it can function as a self-sufficient economic unit?

4. Is the development within a current community or public sewer and water service area, or if the project is within a planned community or public sewer and water service area when will that service be delivered?

5. Is the project located in an area with existing or planned transportation infrastructure adequate to serve the project at build-out?

B. Density, Design, and Diversity of Uses. Base Criteria: The three Ds of good, smart growth development must be present, either within the proposed project or in the vicinity. That is, a project or an area must have sufficient density and scale to support a mix of uses, walkability and public transit. The project should be designed so that it is integrated into the existing community fabric.

1. Density

a. Will net density1 exceed the density of the surrounding area?

b. Is density sufficient to encourage mixed uses, walking, biking or other individual personal methods of transportation, use of civic spaces, increased public transportation, and the reduction of single-occupancy vehicle trips?

c. Will a project located within a half-mile of an existing or planned transit station2 be dense and varied enough (compared with existing uses in the adjacent area) to help the neighborhood support 12- to 18-hour activity?

d. Will an infill project, located farther than a half-mile from an existing or planned transit station or a town, be dense and varied enough (compared with existing uses in the adjacent area) to enliven the area, support public transportation, and take advantage of existing public infrastructure?

e. In suburban areas, will the residential density of the project or of expanding communities be high enough to support some retail, employment, civic uses, and increased public transportation in the community and does it allow for mixed uses?

f. In village/small town areas, will density be sufficient to support and enhance existing development and use existing public infrastructure efficiently?

2. Design

The design of the project should be of high quality and should respect the visual character of the surrounding area.

a. Is the project designed to relate to and encourage connectivity with the surrounding community and not create an isolated enclave?

b. Is the project’s design consistent with the vernacular architecture of the surrounding area, or will the project’s visual character respect and make a positive contribution to the surrounding community?

c. Will the project include sidewalks, street trees, inviting street frontage, attractive street lighting, and human-scale streetscapes so that pedestrians feel safe and are buffered from traffic?

d. Will the project use lighting mechanisms that do not pollute the night sky or negatively affect the surrounding area?

e. Will the project incorporate usable public open space and public civic spaces?

f. Does the project’s parking design promote pedestrian-friendly environments and lend to good-quality design by concentrating parking at the rear of buildings, underground, or in garages, and/or by using landscaping and other techniques to maintain high aesthetic qualities?

g. Is the project designed to accommodate the handicapped and elderly?

3. Diversity

Although mixed-use projects are preferred, at a minimum, the project should add to or complement the mix of uses in its surrounding area.

a. Will the proposed land uses help to balance the jobs, housing, and services mix of the surrounding community?

b. If the project is located within a half-mile of a transit station or an area of a single land use type, will the proposed development balance the jobs, housing, and services mix with the uses already there?

c. If the project is located farther than a half-mile from an existing or planned transit station or near an area of a single land use type, will the project offer an effective internal mix of residential, retail and commercial uses?

d. Will the project promote vertical integration of land uses, for example, housing above stores, or is there more than one use type in a single building?

e. In the absence of vertical mixing, does the project provide for well-integrated mixed uses with effective pedestrian and functional connections?

4. Affordable Housing3

If the project has a residential component, a mix of housing types that can accommodate all income levels is expected.

a. Will the development encourage and produce a mix of housing types for a range of income levels commensurate with job opportunities or age and income demographic trends and needs in that geographic area?

b. Will the development provide at least 10 percent of affordable housing?

c. Is a portion of the residential component earmarked to meet local workforce housing needs?

d. Are affordable housing targets described in terms of Area Median Income (AMI) percentages?

C. Transportation, Mobility, Accessibility. Base Criteria: The project should be designed, located, and programmed to offer alternatives to single occupant vehicle trips in multi-occupant designed vehicles, by enabling safe and effective pedestrian, bicycle and other low speed personal vehicles access to multiple land use activity areas including accessibility to public transportation connections.

1. Is the project designed and located within a half-mile of other land uses and transportation options to encourage residents and workers to walk or bike to school, employment, parks, shops, and services and to use public transit?

2. Is there safe, convenient and attractive access to pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities through well-marked crosswalks on site and links to external areas, including public transit?

3. Does the pedestrian/bicycle design include landscaped, lighted trails that are independent of the street or highway edge and that go to adjoining communities and neighborhoods, and to other trail systems?

4. Will the project design support and encourage internal circulation and local pedestrian use (i.e., provide sidewalks between residences and other land uses, streetscaping, and traffic calming) and bike travel, including providing secure, convenient and sheltered bike parking facilities?

5. Are the project’s internal transportation connections linked (e.g., do they connect paths, sidewalks, or transit routes with each other?), and will its design and location enable the creation, extension, or improvement of additional public or private transit in the community?

6. If congestion is a problem, will the project contribute to/participate in transportation demand management and/or provide incentives to promote ridesharing and transit use?

7. Will the project minimize street widths and off-street parking by using good design, shared parking concepts, and transportation management techniques that reduce demand for parking?

8. Will the project minimize the use of surface parking where transit is located?

9. Does the development support external vehicular, transit, bicycle, and pedestrian connections?

10. Does the design of the project’s road system support connectivity (including through trips) with the road system of the surrounding area?

D. Environment. Base Criteria: The project should effectively protect, conserve, or mitigate negative effects to open space, water, and air quality, and important ecosystem components. The project should be sensitive to existing environmental features and systems and should protect natural resources where feasible. Where possible, sustainable design features should be incorporated into the project’s design.

1. Will the project sensitively preserve, protect, or enhance wetlands, forests, agricultural lands, and aquifer recharge areas and sustain areas of unfragmented ecosystems?

2. Will the project protect existing stream and river buffers or create new buffers?

3. Will the project avoid disturbing steep slopes and highly erodible or unstable soils?

4. Will the project incorporate natural or engineered solutions to prevent (or reduce existing) nonpoint source pollution within a single, small watershed?

5. Does the project reduce stormwater runoff by providing for on-site water retention, infiltration or staged release? Does the project incorporate a green roof? Does the project re-use gray water? Does the project contribute to off-site stormwater retrofits or other stormwater reduction solutions?

6. Will the project protect or restore a variety of on-site habitat, particularly for threatened or endangered species?

7. Will the project’s open-space areas be connected to protect green infrastructure?

8. Will the project, by its location and design, help reduce air pollution?

9. Does the project systematically protect existing trees?

10. Are sustainable design techniques that will conserve and protect water, energy, air quality, and land incorporated into the project?

11. Will the developer or owner apply for LEED4 or FGBC5 certification, and if so at what level?

12. Will the project reduce construction waste or use recycled materials?

13. Will the project redevelop a brownfields6 or greyfields7 site?

E. Density, Design, and Diversity of Uses. Base Criteria: The project should generate benefits for the surrounding area and the host community. These may include positive economic impacts, affordable housing, support for the school system, historic preservation, public access to parks or open space, support for local efforts to encourage alternative transportation, adaptive reuse of obsolete buildings, or other improvements to the quality of community life.

1. Benefits. A range of benefits should be considered.

a. Will the project fulfill the goals of an approved community revitalization or development plan?

b. Will the project offer the community a significant quality-of-life benefit such as a park, a school site, a civic structure or use?

c. Will the project offer a significant benefit to the arts community by creating exhibition space, theaters, studios, or other features?

d. Will the project offer the community a significant economic benefit such as jobs, tax base, cultural arts, etc.?

e. Will the project help support or benefit existing schools?

f. Will the project connect its open space internally, and will it link its open space to external or community open-space resources such as greenways?

g. Will the project retain, restore, and incorporate existing historic structures and sites?

h. Will the project work to retain or relocate any displaced business and residents? i. Will the project provide pedestrian, bicycle, transit and other offsite transportation improvements for the community consistent with smart growth?

2. Participation. The developer should encourage substantial community participation during the development process.

a. Does the developer have a plan for community participation?

b. Has the developer worked responsibly with local groups to identify and resolve local concerns and needs?

c. Has the jurisdiction provided for meaningful community participation in planning and design review?

d. Does the developer have written support, e.g., letters from community members and groups?

e. Has the developer engaged public sector decision makers in the design and development of the project?


1  Net density represents the level of concentration (high or low) of buildings, including their total volume, within a given area, excluding land for streets, public playgrounds, and open space. Often expressed as a ratio, residential density is expressed as dwelling units per acre; nonresidential density is expressed as a floor to site area ratio referred to as Floor Area Ratio or FAR.

2  The term "transit station" is defined as a heavy rail, light rail and/or bus hub facility that provides local or commuter service.

3  As defined by the local jurisdiction.

4  LEED means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design: www.usgbc.org

5  FGBC means Florida Green Building Coalition: www.floridagreenbuilding.org

6  A brownfield is defined by EPA as “...real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

7  A grayfield is generally referred to as a chronically vacant or obsolete building or site.