Creating Livable Communities


Enhancing existing centers and promoting new center-based development is a core strategy for creating livable communities. Connections 2040 identifies over 120 key centers [0.1 MB pdf] in the region as focal points for future development. These centers range from large metropolitan centers and suburban centers to traditional town centers and rural hamlets. While they vary in size, each of these centers has existing infrastructure in place and provides many of the amenities that people want: walkability, unique architectural character, access to transit, social connections, and a mix of housing stock, including affordable housing that is well connected to employment opportunities. Local analysis has shown that center-based development saves $25,000 in development and infrastructure costs per new housing unit compared to sprawl-based development. Households in centers also spend $1,300 less per year in energy and transportation costs and have shorter commutes and more transportation options compared to households located outside of established centers.

Smart Growth/Enhanced Community Design

Local governments can lead the way to a more sustainable future by ensuring their ordinances promote compact, center-based, mixed-use development. Recognizing that each community can best determine its own approach, DVRPC has highlighted a variety of smart growth zoning tools that can enhance communities:

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screenshotSmart Growth Project Database

Traditional Neighborhood Development

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID)

Unified Development Codes (UDC)

Incentive Zoning

Overlay Zones

Form-Based Zoning

Performance Zoning

Live/Work Zoning

Smart Location of Public Facilities

Design Guidelines

Active Design Standards

Open Streets/Play Streets

Pedestrian Plazas

Infill And Redevelopment

Virtually every community has vacant or underutilized properties, ranging from single, isolated parcels to surface parking lots to abandoned shopping malls to brownfields. Community revitalization provides a coordinated and comprehensive approach to addressing distressed areas and to foster healthy and vibrant residential and commercial opportunities.

Redevelopment Plan

Brownfields Redevelopment

Greyfields Redevelopment

Retail Caps

Façade Grant Programs

Downtown Rightsizing

Community Branding

Main Street Programs

Business Improvement Districts

Green Stormwater Infrastructure And Urban Greening

Green Infrastructure is a network of different types of greenspace and green features that provide natural ecosystem functions and enhance the livability of developed communities. For example, green infrastructure in the form of trees and green streets boosts property values, supports retail activity, improves health, protects water quality, reduces stormwater runoff, cleans air, stores and sequesters carbon, provides wildlife habitat, and increases roadway safety. Types of green infrastructure that municipalities can promote include:

Rain Gardens


Naturalized Retention Basins

Tree Trenches

Green Streets

Green Roofs

Neighborhood Parks

Greenways and Trails

Greening Vacant Lots


Inclusive Housing

Housing is a key issue that impacts both regional competitiveness and the vitality of individual communities. Introducing new housing types, sizes, and designs into our region's centers and communities can provide housing opportunities for families with a range of incomes, help the region be less energy constrained, and provide housing choices to help meet the demands of the coming senior boom. To help seniors, municipalities can adopt policies to support aging in place. Local codes that allow increased densities and integrated land uses, for example, can help improve access to necessary services. Widening crosswalks, retiming traffic lights, and providing wider sidewalks, benches, and lighting will benefit residents of all ages, including seniors. Municipalities can also do the following to maintain and improve their housing stock:

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Universal Design Standards

Compatible Residential Infill Ordinances or Infill Design Guidelines

Housing Maintenance and Rehabilitation Programs

Accessory Dwelling Units

Shared Housing

Housing Units Above Commercial and Retail Spaces

Inclusionary Zoning