Smart Growth Community Planning | HPC Training | Wisconsin Historical Society

Guide or Instruction

Smart Growth Community Planning

Chapter 3: Community Benefits of Preservation, Page 4 of 4

Smart Growth Community Planning | HPC Training | Wisconsin Historical Society

A term that historic preservation commission members should have in their vocabulary is "smart growth." Smart growth refers to an approach toward community planning and development. The goal of smart growth is for a community to conscientiously direct its growth rather than allowing growth and development to happen randomly, which usually results in misuse of open space and wastes public and private investments.

Through smart growth planning, communities recycle existing buildings and land, conserve historic residential neighborhoods and downtown commercial districts, preserve farmland, and maintain community character.

Role of Preservation in Smart Growth Planning

Historic preservation work plays an important role in smart growth planning. Members of preservation commissions should be actively involved in developing and guiding their community's future through incorporating smart growth into local planning.

Wisconsin's comprehensive planning legislation requires community comprehensive plans to address these nine elements:

  • Issues and opportunities
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Utilities and community facilities
  • Agricultural, natural, and cultural resources
  • Economic development
  • Intergovernmental cooperation
  • Land use
  • Implementation

As part of local government, a preservation commission should participate in the community's comprehensive planning process and take a lead role in developing the cultural resource component of the plan. Community members and groups with a significant interest or experience in historic preservation should also be included in this portion of the planning process.

In addition to leading the development of the cultural resource element of a community's comprehensive plan, the preservation commission should also be involved in the entire planning process and contribute to other elements of the plan. The commission's participation will ensure that all elements of the plan incorporate concerns for the community's cultural resources. The commission should have a representative on the planning committee and attend as many meetings as possible.

Guide to Smart Growth

The Wisconsin Historical Society's State Historic Preservation Office has published "A Guide to Smart Growth and Cultural Resource Planning," which thoroughly addresses a commission's role in the planning process and how to develop the cultural resource portion of a comprehensive plan. This document is a valuable resource that every commission member should have. The booklet outlines the following steps to take when developing the cultural resource element:

Organize the Historic Preservation Team
Encourage community participation and include representatives from a wide variety of key community groups, such as Native Americans, local historical society members, Main Street program members, local preservation groups, etc. Clarify the group's roles and purpose, and discuss views and perceived problems concerning local historic and cultural resources.
Create Vision
Investigate the concerns and values of the community regarding its historic and cultural resources. Develop overarching goals.
Take Stock
Collect and evaluate the available information about the community's cultural resources. Decide if an additional survey is needed.
Set Goals
Assess how existing programs meet the community's need to preserve significant historic and cultural resources. Identify issues and needs, and formulate long-range goals.
Develop a strategy statement that proposes specific actions to achieve the stated goals, identifies responsible parties, and defines a time frame.
Define how the plan's goals and policies will be carried out. Be sure that the implementation element corresponds to other elements within the overall comprehensive plan.
Evaluate Progress
Establish a process to measure the progress of reaching the set goals, policies, and strategies.