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Smart Growth Readiness Assessment Tool Project

The Smart Growth Readiness Assessment Tool (SGRAT) was an online scorecard and resource for Michigan communities that was developed in 2007 by the MSU Michigan Citizen Planner Program, the Land Policy Institute and the Planning & Zoning Center. Funding support was provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s People and Land Program.

The assessment was built around the 10 Smart Growth Tenets:

  1. Create a range of housing opportunities.
  2. Create walkable communities.
  3. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.
  4. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
  5. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective.
  6. Mix land uses.
  7. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environment areas.
  8. Provide a variety of transportation options.
  9. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities.
  10. Take advantage of compact building design.

The set of 10 online assessments that corresponded to the 10 tenets rated how well a community was prepared to develop using Smart Growth (sustainable planning and development) principles. Assessments provided communities with a baseline score that predicted readiness and could be used to measure progress. The SGRAT also provided extensive resources for communities interested in growing smart, including case studies of Michigan communities that were already successfully following Smart Growth principles.

The SGRAT was targeted for use by cities, villages, growing townships and groups of communities that could function as a region, and in which there was a town center. This capacity-building project provided local government officials, developers and other citizens an online self-help evaluation tool to rate how well their community was doing on a Smart Growth matrix.

In 2010, an 11th assessment for waterfront communities was added to SGRAT. This addition was designed for cities, villages and urban townships located on a navigable body of water, especially those with a waterfront in reasonable proximity to a central business district. These communities are especially at risk of losing the competitive economic advantage provided by waterfronts when short-term, incremental development policies not based on long-range planning goals and Smart Growth principals are implemented. In contrast, master planning and zoning policies based on Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth Elements preserve working waterfronts by encouraging development in a manner that permits water-dependent uses to remain viable, while also permitting mixed-use, high-density development that creates sustainable growth.

Partners

Outreach

  • Tool available from 2007-2015.