Northfield Development Regulations Advisory Group

August 1st, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

On Tuesday, I participated in the first meeting of the Northfield Development Regulations Advisory Group.

The group was formed to provide input to the City Council and Staff on how to bring the Zoning Ordinance into alignment with the Comprehensive Plan and a list of general principles adopted by the City Council. The group consists of a good variety of people including developers, architects, builders, engineers, city board members and city staff.

These are the basic principles, which I very much support:

1. The small town character will be enhanced.
2. The natural environment will be protected, enhance and better integrated in the Community.
3. The preference for accommodating future growth is in infill locations, then redevelopment opportunities, and then on the edge of existing developed areas.
4. New and redeveloped residential communities (areas) will have strong neighborhood qualities.
5. Environmentally-sensitive and sustainable practices will be integrated into new developments and redeveloped areas.
6. Places with a mix of uses that are distinctive and contribute to increasing the City’s overall vitality are preferred.
7. Neighborhood-serving commercial will be small scale and integrated into new developments and redeveloped areas.
8. A wider range of housing choices will be encouraged- in the community as well as in neighborhoods.
9. Rural character of certain areas of the community will be protected.
10. Streets will create an attractive public realm and be exceptional places for people.
11. Places will be better connected, in part to improve the function of the street network and also to better serve neighborhoods.
12. Opportunities will be created to walk and bike throughout the community.

As we reviewed the principles, I was struck by the similarity they hold with the LEED Neighborhood Development Rating system.

The LEED Rating System was created to transform the built environment to sustainability by providing the building industry with consistent, credible standards for what constitutes a green building. The rating system is developed and continuously refined via an open, consensus-based process that has made LEED the green building standard of choice for Federal agencies and state and local governments nationwide (follow the link to learn more).

Here’s the nutshell summary, although you should look at the links above.

Projects are certified by the USGBC as an independent third party according to the number of points earned. Projects are awarded Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum certification depending on the number of credits they achieve.

Agencies, counties, and cities are requiring LEED certification or offering incentives for LEED certification. Perhaps Northfield should consider doing the same. Review the information above and see if you don’t agree.

I’d love to hear your feedback as I continue to work with the Advisory Group. You can comment on this post or get to me through our contact page.

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