Smart Growth Illustrated: Developer s Guidebook. City of Bentonville Community Development Department October 2006

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1 Smart Growth Illustrated: Developer s Guidebook City of Bentonville Community Development Department October

2 Table of Contents What is Smart Growth...3 Six Goals of Smart Growth 5 Ten Tools of Smart Growth...7 Smart Growth Development Examples 10 Traditional Neighborhood Design 23 Bentonville, Then and Now..29 Conclusion...37 Resources.39 2

3 What is Smart Growth? During the past few years, Bentonville s population has rapidly increased creating a need for additional housing and businesses development, as well as infrastructure improvements to cater to our existing and future residents. Much of this development has been haphazard, resulting in urban sprawl which puts a strain on existing resources and creates a community with no sense of place and greater reliance on the automobile. The City is looking for alternative ways to encourage growth that is not only smart, but fair in the efforts to please citizens, developers, and builders. For new development to serve the community, environment, and economy it must be shaped by the vision of the community by looking at values and preferences. Bentonville s current development trends lack a sense of place and is leaning more towards an area made up of could-be-anywhere development. Bentonville should stand out as a community not only to its residents, but to visitors alike. Smart Growth supports the integration of mixed land uses into communities as a critical component of achieving better places to live. By putting uses in close proximity to one another, alternatives to driving, such as walking or biking, once again become viable. Mixed land uses also provide a more diverse and sizable population and commercial base for supporting viable public transportation. It can enhance the vitality and perceived security of an area by increasing the number and attitude of the people on the street. It helps streets, public spaces, and pedestrian oriented retail again become places where people meet, attracting pedestrians back onto the street and helping to revitalize community life (NAHB, Smart Growth, Smart Choices Series: Mixed-Use Development, p. 3). 3

4 We hope local developers will embrace Smart Growth principles to achieve a smartly planned city with vibrant communities that possess a sense of place in which people will remember for years to come. These principles presented within this Smart Growth Illustrated Guidebook will assist you in learning more about Smart Growth concepts and how they can be applied to Bentonville. Smart Growth will assist the Planning Department in managing the pace and pattern of our community s growth to create more jobs, a broader tax base, and a healthy economy with fewer of the costs associated with poorly-planned development. Photo courtesy of 4

5 Six Goals of Smart Growth Smart Growth is Growth that Helps to Achieve the Following Six Goals: 1. Neighborhood livability. Neighborhoods should be safe, affordable, attractive, and convenient. The central goal is to improve the quality of neighborhoods within Bentonville and construct new ones which strive to encompass all four of the qualities listed above. 2. Better access, less traffic. Traffic congestion is a major pitfall created by urban sprawl. Due to decentralized and less dense development, longer commute times are the result. This not only applies to driving time to and from work, but also just to run simple errands such as going to the grocery store or dropping the kids off at soccer practice. Smart Growth places an emphasis on clustering development, providing a mix of integrated land uses, and offering transportation choices so people are not dependent on their automobile. 3. Thriving cities, suburbs, and towns. Putting the needs of existing communities first is a priority of Smart Growth. Development should be guided to already built-up areas; this is called infill-development. As a result, improved public services can go toward where people live today. This is especially important in areas with low private investment and inadequate public services. It is also critical to preserve what makes these places special, such as historic buildings, cultural landmarks, and historic districts. Not only does infill development improve existing neighborhoods, it also decreases traffic and makes the community more livable. 5

6 4. Shared benefits. According to Smart Growth America, urban sprawl divides a community by income and race. As a result, some communities prosper, while others languish. It is a goal of Smart Growth to have all members within the community participate with the regional economy and be a beneficiary of prosperity. 5. Lower costs. According to Smart Growth America, sprawl costs money. Infrastructure improvements such as water and sewer line extensions and road improvements are expensive and take long periods of construction time. This in turn causes longer commute times transportation is the second highest category of household spending, just behind shelter (Smart Growth America). Taking advantage of existing infrastructure is a more appropriate choice. 6. Keeping open space open. It is well known that the population growth in Bentonville has been a catalyst to the rapid development. Although, because this development is spread out, in a hop-scotch pattern, and at times, haphazard, acres and acres of open space have been cleared for the purposes of constructing housing and other non-residential development. By focusing on infill development, Smart Growth preserves this rapidly disappearing natural environment for which Arkansas is known. Also, protecting our natural resources provides healthier air and clean drinking water. More and more, Bentonville residents are moving from communities with parks, trails, and other recreational areas and have high expectations concerning open space within our community. Open space and natural areas should not be considered an added amenity to a development. Preservation and conservation should be thought of first when 6 advancing Bentonville s built environment.

7 Ten Tools of Smart Growth: How can I help Bentonville Achieve Smart Growth? The ten tools listed below can assist in forming and incorporating Smart Growth principals in new development. 1. Mix land uses. Clustered development needs to have a mix of residential, commercial, office space, and community services so people can walk to and from home, work, shopping, and other services. Single-use districts and neighborhoods make life less convenient and require more driving. 2. Take advantage of existing community assets. Public and private investment should take advantage of the infrastructure that is already in place, getting the most out of what is already built. 3. Create a range of existing housing opportunities and choices. A mix of housing choices should be available to cater to all types of families and lifestyles. There should be a variety and integration of detached homes to townhouses to cottages at varying price ranges in order to accommodate every person within each price range. 7

8 4. Foster walkable, close-knit neighborhoods. A compact, walkable neighborhood fosters a sense of community. A key factor is to have a destination to walk to, such as school, work, or the local grocery store. This promotes human interaction which contributes to an increased sense of place. 5. Promote distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place. All historical places and buildings of significance must be protected and celebrated. These types of landmarks not only provide culture and history, but make a place special. 6. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas. Today more than ever people understand the ramifications of clearing natural land and open space within their community. Overall, it negatively affects the environment, but it also has an effect on drainage, drinking water, the air we breathe, and a individual s overall quality of life. 7. Strengthen and encourage growth in existing communities. Before more natural land and open space is cleared, develop in already built-up areas to preserve Bentonville s existing farm land and trees. 8. Provide a variety of transportation choices. By creating dense, infill development, the options of walking, biking, and less reliance on the automobile may be achieved by means of sidewalks and trails. Safe and reliable public transportation will be a more feasible option in the future. 8

9 9. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective. As a developer or builder, you will not face any more obstacles by incorporating Smart Growth principles into your development than those contributing to sprawl. 10. Encourage citizen and stakeholder participation in development decisions. As a developer, you are catering to a market the citizens of Bentonville! To make the best use of your money and time and to make your development more appealing and competitive, find out what the community wants because they are your future buyers. Photo courtesy of: 9

10 Smart Growth Development Examples 10

11 Wide sidewalk with colored brick design element Street trees create a beautiful landscape and shade Outdoor, moveable seating Photo courtesy of:http://www.lgc.org/freepub/pdf/land_use/reports/density_manual.pdf 11

12 Public plaza inviting to pedestrians Building takes advantage of corner location by adding prominent window feature Retail shops on the street level create a pedestrian friendly shopping experience Apartments on the top three floors Photo courtesy of:http://www.lgc.org/freepub/pdf/land_use/reports/density_manual.pdf 12

13 Buildings centered around a public park Wide sidewalks 12 wide on residential streets to encourage walking and biking Buildings close to the street Retail and office on bottom floors, residential apartments above Photo courtesy of:http://www.lgc.org/freepub/pdf/land_use/reports/density_manual.pdf 13

14 Townhouses set close to the street 14.5 feet from back of curb Interior driveways and garages create a pedestrian oriented streetscape Landscaped pathways, trails, and pocket parks Incorporate traditional design elements reminiscent of 19 th and 20 th century rowhouses Photos courtesy of:http://www.lgc.org/freepub/pdf/land_use/reports/density_manual.pdf 14

15 Wide sidewalks and crosswalk pedestrian friendly Moveable street furniture First floor retail, second floor residential Large store front windows Street trees Photo courtesy of: 15

16 Underground parking garage Central courtyard Compact building design Designed with varied facades to create the illusion of single family homes Photo courtesy of: 16

17 Street tables for cafes and restaurants located near the curb creates an atmosphere for not only the diners, but for the people walking between the store fronts and tables Street trees On street parking Compact building design Large store front windows Photo courtesy of: 17

18 Wide sidewalks / trail Compact building design Mix of residential, office, and commercial Street trees Photo courtesy of: 18

19 Density that rises as you go from the single family homes in front, to townhomes, to apartments, which are closest to the transit station On street parking Landscaping Traditional design elements Photo courtesy of: 19

20 Variety of housing types Parks and play areas allow for smaller lots, increasing the amount of housing available Wide sidewalks Residences face street while parking is located on the side or rear of the lots Photo courtesy of: 20

21 Narrow streets and wide sidewalks Specially paved crosswalk Street trees Public art display Outdoor seating Photo courtesy of: 21

22 Community oriented design Shared, common open space and reduced yard sizes to allow for increased density Incorporate porches and walkways Variety of housing types Photos courtesy of: 22

23 Traditional Neighborhood Design (T.N.D.) 23

24 Smart Growth and Traditional Neighborhood Design (T.N.D.) What is T.N.D.? Smart Growth can be achieved through a type of site design, layout, and architecture known as Traditional Neighborhood Design, more commonly referred to as T.N.D. They are developments that, revive key ingredients of old towns in the hope that new communities will blossom (http://www.tndhomes.com/under02.htm). T.N.D. is part of the entire city, not separate entities or upscale communities. The main goal of T.N.D. is to be inviting to pedestrians that is, built to human scale. A variety of housing types, services for the community such as jobs and shopping, front porches, alleyways, garages located off the rear of the home, and narrow streets with sidewalks which create an overall street network are components of T.N.D. Through these design and placement guidelines, residents walk and socialize more frequently within neighborhood squares and along the narrow streets. 24

25 A sense of community begins with the neighborhood square, which is a key element of T.N.D. The square sets the stage for impromptu socializing. Located around the square is a mix of homes which accommodate everyone from singles, married couples with children, and empty-nesters. Homes can range from detached homes to townhouses to cottages. Various types of homes may be integrated with each other along the street to create a varied and interesting streetscape. This type of development is a far cry from the current housing design and placement situation in Bentonville, which is dominated by a long street, with the same house on each lot that is only distinguishable by the street address on the mailbox. The possibilities T.N.D. offers is endless! Photos courtesy of 25

26 Current Suburban Development has the Following Characteristics: The creation of segregated, single use zones such as single-family subdivisions, multi-family projects, shopping centers, and office parks; The rigid separation of housing based on residential type and cost; A street network that funnels traffic from numerous disconnected cul-de-sac streets to a few larger streets (collector and arterial streets) concentrating traffic congestion on the larger roadways; Wide streets that are designed primarily to accommodate the automobile and are inhospitable and frequently dangerous places for pedestrians, and Almost total dependence on the automobile due to large distances between housing, work, shopping and recreation, and the lack of other transportation options. Courtesy of: 26

27 In Contrast, Traditional Neighborhoods have the Following Characteristics: The creation of neighborhoods with a range of uses and housing types (i.e. mixed-uses); Commercial uses and more intensive residential uses are frequently located in neighborhood centers; Limits on the size, location, and design of buildings as opposed to the strict separation of uses; An interconnected network of narrow streets that are safe and pleasant for pedestrians and which provide a variety of routes for local traffic; A range of transportation options are available due to the pattern of streets and the proximity of various land uses, and High quality public spaces (greenbelts, parks, plazas, squares, and streets) are an organizing feature and gathering place for the neighborhood. Courtesy of: 27

28 The goal is to create an entire streetscape that is as attractive as any individual house. Locating homes closer to the sidewalk allows residents sitting on their porches to converse with passersby s. Porches are often complemented by flower boxes and picket fences. Garage doors are recessed or hidden. Narrow, tree-lined streets encourage cars to move slowly, which makes the neighborhood safer and more inviting for pedestrians (http://www.tndhomes.com/under02.htm). T.N.D. also provides community services, places of employment, and civic buildings all within walking or biking distance of resident s homes. This provides mobility and freedom to people of all ages, discourages sprawl and an overdependence on the automobile, encourages person to person interaction and exercise, and helps the environment! T.N.D. developments are not fixed in time - the evolution of uses is expected. Overall, the quality of life is greater when a development embraces T.N.D. principles. Basic Principals of T.N.D. Include: Balanced mix of uses; Public gathering spaces; Connected street grid; Variety of housing types; Green space; Mix of jobs, and Housing. 28

29 Bentonville, Then and Now Bentonville s Original Traditional Neighborhood Design (T.N.D.): Community gathering places such as the square, parks, narrow streets, houses dominated by front porches, and varied architecture were the standard when Bentonville was established. These core concepts is what T.N.D. strives to recreate to assist in achieving Smart Growth developments. Bentonville GIS As the image above shows, the square is the central focus of Bentonville and serves, as it still does today as a public gathering space as well as a landmark. In addition, the streets were placed in a grid-like pattern to promote connectivity and multiple navigational routes. 29

30 Bentonville s Traditional Neighborhood Design Downtown Bentonville Square central public gathering place and landmark 30

31 Services for nearby residents Pocket park and trail integrated into mixed-use area 31

32 Infill development - downtown Traditional homes along E. Central Avenue 32

33 33

34 34

35 Bentonville s New, not so Traditional Design As new development has ensued, design and quality of Bentonville homes has taken a backseat to efficiency and quantity. In many neighborhoods, the only way to tell which house is yours is by the numbers on the mailbox. Bentonville GIS In contrast to how Bentonville originally developed, new neighborhoods encompass a single-use, such as strictly single family residential, disconnected streets, and neighborhoods that are not within walking distance of each other or businesses such as a grocery store or restaurant. This type of development caters to the automobile and is not pedestrian friendly. In addition, mixed-use developments are not truly mixed-use in nature. What we see today are separate uses within the same development instead of a true integration of uses. 35

36 Examples of Sprawl Related to Bentonville : In contrast to compact development, sprawl encourages the clearing of land, expansive parking, and housing that lacks interest, creating a could-be-anywhere development. Can you tell which images were taken in Bentonville? All photos courtesy of: and City of Bentonville GIS 36

37 Conclusion 37

38 Conclusion Development touches every part of our lives. Smart Growth strategies are helping numerous communities around the nation achieve better futures they can help Bentonville too. Smart Growth principles will assist Bentonville to offer choices in development, protect our natural resources, honor shared culture and heritage, use resources wisely, improve our economy, build safe & affordable homes, protect the health of the public, and create opportunities for everyone. We need your help! 38

39 Resources: NAHB, Smart Growth, Smart Choices Series: Mixed-Use Development 39

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