Zoning Strategy for Economic Vitality

Cambridge, Maryland, recently purchased 700 acres of land and working with local business owners developed a new unified development code to update zoning regulations. Inside we provide links to its new plan for growth and how business owners and residents will benefit

Economic DevelopmentWhat Happened?
Cambridge, Maryland, recently halted a 1,000-acre golf course project as a result of strong public opposition to the initiative. Rather, the Maryland Board of Public Works bought 70 percent of the land that was to be used for the golf course and is looking to preserve it for economic growth opportunities.

The Goal
Cambridge Main Street decided to work with city planners to rewrite the municipality’s comprehensive plan for growth after the golf course project was proposed. The group of local business owners realized zoning regulations could be utilized to enhance the land, increase economic development and spur sustainable growth. Town hall meetings and public surveys revealed residents were in favor of boosting tourism and wanted a hotel, as well as more opportunities for new businesses to plant roots and create jobs within the city.

The city of Cambridge and Cambridge Main Street collaborated on a revamped plan for growth that incorporated perks for business owners and residents. To ensure the new strategy can be implemented in full, the city is updating its zoning regulations in the downtown area. The initiative won public support after lawmakers demonstrated the potential savings and economic opportunities that would be available if zoning restrictions were changed.

The city’s Department of Planning put together a unified development code for approval from the City Council. The planning committee is also working with state agencies and local universities on new infrastructure development using nearby resources and manpower. Furthermore, the federal government’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities program may play a part in funding the projects, as the initiative promises to boost the economy while enhancing the quality of life for residents.

Why Business Groups Matter
Many municipalities have groups representing local businesses similar to Cambridge Main Street. These organizations often work together to strategize on how best to enhance specific communities or neighborhoods, with a strong focus on economic development and small business support.

Understanding that making connections between local businesses and residents is a key part of economic sustainability, these groups can collaborate with local lawmakers and city planners to offer insight when new infrastructure is being developed. When local officials cooperate with these local groups, mutual funding opportunities may arise as well as volunteer opportunities to put projects in motion.

Perks of Zoning Changes
In Attleboro, Massachusetts, the city council recently made several zoning changes to encourage more businesses to move to the area and increase economic activity. The city houses a 160-acre facility that is vacant, and the new zoning codes will make it easier for a variety of businesses to set up shop in the industrial park.

The city council decided to rethink its zoning regulations after portions of the industrial business park were left vacant for several years due to a tough economy. The zoning changes would make it possible for small retail stores to move into the location after a larger business occupied the building. Allowing for multiple businesses within the space creates more flexibility for a wide variety of enterprises to take up residency.

In The Zone
EfficientGov has monitored developments in zoning changes for urban farming projects  and other efforts to boost community sustainability.
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Barry Greenfield

Barry Greenfield is the founder of EfficientGov.com.