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Hartford-Area Planning Group Reaps Smart Growth Aid

Release Date: 10/29/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Oct. 29, 2008) – A Connecticut organization representing 29 towns and cities in the Hartford area was chosen to receive technical assistance worth $45,000 from EPA, to help communities craft zoning regulations that use smart growth principles in developing affordable housing.

The Capitol Regional Council of Governments, chosen from a national competition that drew 47 applicants, requested help developing model regulations that will let Connecticut towns and cities take advantage of state incentives for affordable housing while also creating mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods.

The council also wants to explore financial incentives that will encourage affordable housing that takes advantage of existing public transit and green building designs. The project will be done in partnership with many communities in the Hartford region, as well as the Partnership for Strong Communities, the University of Hartford Center for Integrated Design and the American Farmland Trust.

“Housing that depends on less driving and greater home energy efficiency helps on many levels – reducing both costs for homeowners and impacts on our environment,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Proposals like this one put in action the principles of efficient, affordable and environmentally sensitive growth.”

“Providing sustainable and affordable housing is a key policy goal of CRCOG, and a necessity for the future health and vitality of our communities and region,” said Lyle Wray, executive director of the Capitol Regional Council of Governments. “This technical assistance grant will help us achieve our goal through providing workable models of how to create the range of housing types that our families, our workers and our municipalities need—now and in the future.”

“This grant will help Connecticut and the region create the type of affordable and market-rate homes in smart-growth locations that will help us hold onto and attract young professionals, workers and families that we need for economic growth,” said David Fink, policy director, Partnership for Strong Communities. “Business needs skilled labor pool to expand, and the state must replace its aging workforce. EPA has provided what may be the missing link.”

“The comprehensive nature of the support we’ll get with this grant will be helpful because of the concern a rural community has in incorporating sufficient density to facilitate affordable housing, while preserving community character and protecting natural resources,” said Linda Farmer, director of Planning and Community Development for the town of Tolland. “Current models do not specifically address mixed uses in a more rural setting. For this reason, attention to design, sitting and sustainability are critical for community support.”

EPA’s Smart Growth Technical Assistance program helps communities that want to foster economic growth, protect environmental resources, enhance public health and plan for development, but lack the tools, resources and information to do so. Under a federal contract, each community will receive direct technical assistance from a team of national experts organized by EPA and other partners to work with local leaders. Team members will have expertise in disciplines relevant to each community’s needs.

More information:

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EPA’s Smart Growth program (http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/)

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Other communities receiving EPA smart growth technical assistance (http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/sgia2008.htm)