Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability

Michigan State University (the School of Planning, Design and Construction (SPDC); and the Land Policy Institute (LPI)), partners in the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s (TCRPC) Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability (MMPGS), are developing a series of information resources, technical assistance and tools to assist with the sustainability planning along the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Corridor and throughout the three-county region (Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties). This partnership with MSU is important, because it engages a major anchor institution in the region; brings in expertise in affordable housing and community planning and design; includes college students in the regional planning process; and provides local jurisdictions with valuable tools for sustainability planning. This effort consists of five main activities as part of two MMPGS Projects:

  1. Regional Affordable Housing Study (SPDC’S Dr. Suk-Kyung Kim);
  2. Health Impact Assesment of the Urban and Rural Service Management Policy (SPDC’s Dr. Mike Thomas);
  3. Inventory and Analysis, and Sustainable Corridor Design Portfolio (LPI’s Mark Wyckoff);
  4. MSU SPDC Student Urban & Regional Planning Practicum (Dr. Zenia Kotval);
  5. MSU SPDC Landscape Architecture Student Design Studio (Paul Nieratko);
  6. Sustainability Audit Tool and Local Official Training (SPDC’s Wayne Beyea); and
  7. The Mid-Michigan Health Impact Assesment Toolkit (SPDC’s Dr. Mike Thomas).
MSU Projects Contact for the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability:

Mary Beth Graebert, MSU Land Policy Institute, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 355-3378.

 

MMPGS Project: Regional Affordable Housing Study

Affordable Housing Study TimelineThe MMPGS Regional Affordable Housing Study aims to provide an accurate diagnosis of current housing and set practical achievable goals to improve housing affordability across the region. This project follows a rigorous data collection and analysis process. The process includes:

1. Analyzing Housing Conditions in the Region:

The primary data sources are the U.S. Census Bureau’s American community survey results, real estate data and websites of local communities and jurisdictions. We also visited neighborhoods located in these regions to observe physical conditions of existing housing and understand the issues. Based on these initial results, we developed a tool to investigate housing experts, urban planners and residents’ opinions on housing affordability in the region. Download the Housing Conditions, Housing Program and Planners’ Input Report.

A Regional Study of Affordable Housing Seminar: May 28, 2014, Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, MSU, East Lansing, MI

2. Investigating Opinions of Housing Experts and Urban Planners Focusing on Regional Housing Affordability:

A series of interviews with 30 housing experts and 20 urban planners were conducted between March and July 2013, to obtain practical opinions on housing affordability in the region. The research is also reviewing land use and zoning regulations of the Tri-County Region to examine criteria and standards for improving housing affordability as of November 2013. In addition, the Study focused on identifying and describing incentives currently being implemented or considered to support energy-efficient housing development or redevelopment. Based on these empirical data collection methods, the Study discusses how these incentives are beneficial to improving housing affordability for diverse socio-economic levels in this region. Download the Housing Expert Interview Report.

3. Collecting and Analyzing Opinions of the Residents in this Region:

Finally, a public survey of approximately 700 residents, identified with the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, was conducted between September and December 2013. The survey collected opinions on individual housing affordability and regional housing affordability. The survey explores resident opinions on diverse housing type, size, location, cost and jobs/housing balance. The survey is conducted through paper and online surveys. Participants in this regional survey were randomly selected from the three counties (i.e., Clinton, Eaton and Ingham) and two regional areas (i.e., urban and suburban).

The ultimate outcomes of this project include: A set of policy and program directions that will be the basic guidelines for establishing a strategic plan to maximize housing affordability in the Tri-County Region; an analysis of the inventory of housing stock; a list of the barriers to affordable housing in the region identified from housing experts and urban planners; and identification of housing partners who can advance the region’s housing objectives.

Contact Information:

Dr. Suk-Kyung Kim, MSU SPDC, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 353-9367; and Katherine Draper, Greater Lansing Housing Coalition, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 372-5980.

4. Health Impact Assessment of the Comprehensive Regional Fair and Affordable Housing Plan

While decision makers in public and private sectors often have direct or indirect impact on individual and community health, health considerations are not commonly included in the planning and decision-making process. The Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a tool that can be offered to decision makers to elevate health considerations by local planning boards and elected leaders.

The MSU SPDC, the TCRPC and the Ingham County Health Department are developing a Fair and Affordable Housing Plan HIA. The HIA is supporting the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition in the creation of the comprehensive regional plan as part of MMPGS. The HIA Team is also coordinating research, data development and impact assessment in collaboration with the Affordable Housing Study led by SPDC’s Dr. Suk-Kyung Kim. When completed, the full HIA report will be accessible on the HIA Toolkit/MMPGS Portal website. Funding for the HIA project is provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts under the Health Impact Project.

Contact Information:

Dr. Michael R. Thomas, MSU SPDC, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 332-2986.

 

MMPGS Project: Health Impact Assessment of the Urban and Rural Service Management Policy

While decision makers in public and private sectors often have direct or indirect impact on individual and community health, health considerations are not commonly included in the planning and decision-making process. The Health Impact Assessment (HIA) is a tool that can be offered to decision makers to elevate health considerations by local planning boards and elected leaders.

The MSU SPDC, with support from the TCRPC and the Ingham County Health Department, is developing an Urban and Rural Service Management (URSM) Policy HIA. The HIA is supporting a regional URSM Committee, which is made up of leaders from municipal and township governments throughout the mid-Michigan region. The URSM Committee is facilitating the adoption of urban service management areas and encouraging municipalities to plan together for sustainable placement of future public water and sewer infrastructure. The URSM HIA provides a model for how local communities can integrate best practices, research, data development, and impact assessment to inform local decision making. Funding for the HIA project is provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts under the Health Impact Project.

Contact Information:

Dr. Michael R. Thomas, MSU SPDC, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 332-2986.

 

MMPGS Project: Development of a Sustainable Corridor Design Portfolio, and MSU Student Practicum and Design Courses

Mid-Michigan is blessed with the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Corridor (the Corridor), which is unquestioningly accepted as the Region’s “main street.” The Corridor includes the State Capitol, central business districts, regional health science clusters, internationally recognized educational institutions, suburban shopping districts and seven of the region’s 10 largest employers. The Corridor also carries more than 1.7 million transit trips annually. In 2011, the Capital Area Transportation Authority, along with regional partners, completed a multi-year Alternatives Analysis for a portion of the corridor that identified Bus Rapid Transit as the Locally Preferred Alternative. Therefore, the Corridor is the ideal laboratory for development of a Design Portfolio to catalyze sustainable development in the Region. Faculty and students at MSU will assist the project in developing a design portfolio and targeting student-led projects on specific sites in the Corridor. The following is a brief description of these activities.

 The Sustainable Corridor Design Portfolio (Project 7 of the MMPGS Initiative) has five process and product components that are linked to other activities on this project. These include: 1) Inventory, analysis and planning along the Michigan Ave./Grand River Ave. Corridor (from the State Capitol to the Village of Webberville) by the Planning & Zoning Center (PZC) at MSU; 2) Preparation of a best practices guidebook illustrated with examples along the corridor by the PZC; 3) Design projects by the SPDC Landscape Architecture Design (LAD) studios at nodes and/or sites along the corridor; 4) SPDC Planning Student Practicum Projects; and 5) Provision of local official, citizen and stakeholder technical assistance on sustainable planning by the SPDC American Citizen Planner Program.

1. Inventory and Analysis:

The LPI’s Planning & Zoning Center at MSU (PZC) conducted an inventory and analysis of the land uses and densities along the Michigan Ave./Grand River Ave. Corridor (from the State Capitol to the Village of Webberville) that provided valuable information for two Charrettes that were conducted within the Corridor. It also helped drive the contents of the Corridor Design Portfolio that is being created by the PZC. The Corridor inventory and analysis of existing land uses was examined relative to the principles in Choices for Our Future  and HUD’s Livability Principles to provide recommendations for future multi-modal connectivity, housing access and affordability, access to jobs, Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets planning, Transit-Oriented Design, greenhouse gas emission reduction, green infrastructure implementation and inclusionary zoning for each segment along the Corridor. Where appropriate and feasible, samples of local master plan, zoning ordinance, and form-based code language will be included in the Portfolio to assist communities with policy decisions and adoption of consistent implementing language

Contact:

Mark Wyckoff, Land Policy Institute and the Planning & Zoning Center at MSU, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 884-7742.

2. Corridor Design Portfolio

Designed by the LPI’s Planning & Zoning Center to be highly visual, the Corridor Design Portfolio is an educational tool for citizens, developers and local government officials on the urban/suburban/rural/small town design transects along such a corridor. It provides examples of best practices around a number of sustainability topics that are suitable to the corridor including capital improvement, civic engagement, economy, energy, environment, form, land use, placemaking, planning, social justice, transportation and zoning. This Portfolio is a best practices guide illustrated with examples along the Corridor, and is available only online. The Portfolio draws from many sources, including designs and illustrations from the two Charrettes that were conducted within the Corridor by national firms and the SPDC Urban Planning Practicums and the LAD projects (listed below). Download the Corridor Design Portfolio.

Contact:

Mark Wyckoff, Land Policy Institute and the Planning & Zoning Center at MSU, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 884-7742. 

3. MSU Landscape Architecture Student Design Studio:

In the second and third years of the initiative, the MSU LAD classes are developing design projects at key nodes and/or sites along the Michigan Ave./Grand River Ave. Corridor to further refine recommendations and create case examples for use in the Corridor Design Portfolio. There will be a focus on site feasibility and reuse plans, and strong stakeholder engagement. Following is additional background information on the work of these classes.

The design studio required in the professional Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Program in the SPDC, Connections of Scale, asks students to use regional- and local-based land use data, specific district, node and site data and their own site analysis to design mixed-use, transit-oriented development projects, which include a “best mix” of activities at/for each location. Connections of Scale students will design sites as identified by the consortium and to the extent feasible those sites that are selected for the SPDC URP Planning Practicum studies. These mixed-use site design projects typically include identified needs for housing, transportation, business, entertainment and retail components that will of necessity vary from site to site. Each project will be conceptually driven by student teams and guided by faculty, and will respond to urban, suburban, rural or small town sites and conditions.

They are site-focused and, at the same time, regionally connected. The intended results are place-oriented, compact, mixed-use, energy efficient and context-sensitive development visions that a partner community, the consortium or developers may use in going the next step. Results are focused on multiple modes of transportation connecting people at various nodes of activity and to the amenities, the central cities and other communities of the region. Each design studio in the second and third years will provide three to five design visions for a stipulated site in the form of presentation boards and/or three-dimensional models or computer generated models of the physical spatial structure of the mixed-use development. Results from the initial design studios are provided below.

City of East Lansing Park District, City Center II and Entrance to MSU - October 3-November 5, 2013

Village of Webberville - October 31-December 5, 2013

Contact:

Paul Nieratko, SPDC Landscape Architecture Program, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 353-7883.

4.MSU Planning Student Practicum Projects:

The SDPC Urban & Regional Planning (URP) program requires graduating undergraduate and graduate students to complete a capstone course in the Spring semester of each year called a Practicum. This required course is designed to address real-world planning issues in a classroom setting. The course assists communities in completing local initiatives with university assets, through intense student-led/faculty-guided projects. Planning practicum teams engage in a variety of professional planning activities ranging from feasibility studies, site reuse plans, corridor studies, small business incubators and planning for sustainability. This timely skilled technical assistance can be very helpful in moving project-specific activities to their successful conclusion. The SPDC URP at MSU will provide a minimum of two practicum team projects identified by the consortium, and appropriate to the practicum program in support of the TCRPC Sustainable Communities project, in the second and third years of the grant.

In the Spring Semester of 2013, a team of MSU UPR students completed a Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue Sub-Area Plan for Webberville, MI. The goal of this project was to develop a strategic plan to guide the revitalization of downtown Webberville. The project report includes a socio-economic profile, an inventory of downtown land use patterns and existing zoning, an analysis of parcel conditions and streetscape, a business inventory and an analysis of transportation patterns, consumer trends and community input. The plan provides specific recommendations for the Village’s next steps in implementing the plan, including improvement in walkability and public spaces, increased safety, and the establishment of a connection between the core downtown with the surrounding community.

In the Spring Semester of 2014, a team of MSU URP students completed a Red Cedar River Corridor Trail Plan for the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and Williamstown Township’s planning department. The goal of this project was to develop a plan that would outline the possibility of constructing a river trail along the Red Cedar River in Williamstown Township. This report includes a  parcel assessment to determine the feasibility of creating a river trail in Williamstown Township from Meridian Road and Putnam Street; identified a possible trail route(s) along the Red Cedar River, as well as access points, amenities (boat/canoe/kayak launches), connections with other local trails, phases of development; identified key connectivity nodes on the trail that connect to main streets, businesses, schools, residential areas, recreational facilities and other existing trails; a Trail Impact Assessment that examined national, state and local case studies to analyze and determine the potential impact of trails on property value, frequency of trail related crime, public health benefits of recreation opportunities, and economic development opportunities related to robust recreation opportunities; and possible funding sources to support trail development. A short video was created about the possible river trail to assist with public education and marketing of the trail.

Contact:

Dr. Zenia Kotval, SPDC Urban & Regional Planning Program and MSUE Urban Collaborators and Urban Planning Partnerships, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 353-9362.

5. Sustainability Audit Tool and Local Official Training

To build on the Michigan Ave./Grand River Ave. Corridor component of the project, the American Citizen Planner (ACP) will conduct community-specific sustainable and green development training sessions for local elected and appointed officials. Up to four communities will be selected involving up to 12 technical assistance workshops. As part of the local workshops stakeholders will be interviewed on the topic of community design and sustainability. The purpose of the trainings will be to convey best practices for implementing local sustainable communities and green development tools and techniques to help meet the goals of Choices for Our Future. The training programs will share all the information gathered and tools developed with interested citizens and stakeholders along the Corridor and will include an online training component.

A web-based online training module will also be created by the ACP to convey best practices identified in the guidebook and other resources and make better use of the new Online Portal developed as part of the grant. The web-based training will be available Corridor-wide and delivered in various formats to meet specific stakeholder needs. A sustainability and green development audit will take place in up to four selected communities to inform the recommendations and local policy change in these communities. The audit will build on resources developed as part of the Smart Growth Readiness Assessment Tool and other assessment tools, including the MMPGS Online Portal. Each assessment provides communities with a baseline score and can be used to measure progress in achieving sustainable and green development.

Contact:

Wayne Beyea, SPDC Urban & Regional Planning Program and American Citizen Planner, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 432-7600.

 

MMPGS Project: The Mid-Michigan Health Impact Assessment Toolkit

The MSU SPDC, in partnership with the TCRPC and the Ingham County Health Department, is developing an online, GIS-based, analytic toolset for evaluating the effects of local planning and decision-making on community health and health equity in the mid-Michigan region. The project is supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts under the Health Impact Project, and the U.S. HUD Sustainable Communities Program.

The Health Impact Assessment (HIA) Toolkit helps support the HIA process by providing free access to environmental and health data to planners, decision makers and the public; mapping and visualization applications; and assessment of impacts that can showcase how to integrate an assessment of public health impacts within a greater, dynamic movement towards sustainability in our region. The HIA Toolkit contains an online Mapping and Impact Assessment Tool, which can assist local leaders, community planners, landowners, developers and the public assess the potential health, environmental, and social effects of policies and changes to the built environment. With this tool a user can locate a project on an online base map, select and visualize mapped information about that location and surrounding areas and evaluate the project using an impact assessment checklist approach. The tool can address issues regarding water quality; air quality; noise; wastewater, solid waste and hazardous waste management; social capital; health equity and food systems; physical activity and injury prevention; ecologically sensitive areas; and meeting regional growth objectives. Digital maps are available for Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties in the Mid-Michigan Region, although some areas may have more detailed information than others.

Contact Information:

Dr. Michael R. Thomas, MSU SPDC, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call (517) 332-2986.