Managing current and future land uses enables communities to address existing and potential land use conflicts and assess natural limitations for future development or redevelopment opportunities in relation to floodplains, wetlands and other environmentally sensitive lands.
Effective land use planning makes subsequent zoning, regulation and other land use management decisions more transparent by helping to illustrate the reasons why a zoning or development decision was made. A good land use approach considers a variety of factors including, but not limited to: land supply and demand, population and employment, groundwater and surface water resources, and natural limitations such as steep slopes, floodplains, and wetlands.
Planning and managing land use involves tradeoffs and, often, the balancing of multiple objectives (e.g. fiscal, economic, aesthetic, and environmental) that requires an understanding of natural hazards and risks, including potential impacts resulting from climate change. Challenges that communities face when impacted by these hazards include: knowing where to access credible, relevant data and information for use in identifying risks and vulnerabilities; understanding how to explain these risks to citizens in order to effect changes in behavior; and lack of access to economic information that can help inform greener adaptation strategies, such as cost-benefit information to support low-impact development.
Public consensus during the planning phase and continued public education and outreach has contributed greatly to those floodplain management programs that explicitly look at flood risk reduction. By making citizens aware of historic and current flooding problems, they are more likely to support voluntary programs and structural projects that will reduce future losses.
To help address these and other land use and zoning related issues, we are providing case studies of what some communities are doing and examples of data and tools that can help. Case studies that exemplify best practices are the core of the Planning Guide, and we are continually looking to expand those offered. If you have a case study to share – or a local story that illustrates hazard or resilience issues in your community – please contact us.