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Smart Growth Planning on the Chopping Block

January 24, 2011

DES MOINES, Iowa - During the last session of the legislature, a comprehensive Smart Growth Planning bill was passed that outlined smart planning principles for communities and provided some funding for infrastructure projects. In the first week of this legislative session, the Iowa House voted to repeal the law. Now, the massive budget-cutting measure called Taxpayer's First goes to the Iowa Senate.

Gary Taylor, Iowa State University assistant professor in community and regional planning, says the main part of smart planning laws costs the state nothing.

"In terms of the smart planning concepts - setting out 10 smart planning principles and describing what should be included in a comprehensive plan - there is no state outlay of expenditures for that."

He says if Iowa senators go along with the repeal, Iowa will find itself among a minority of states with no state smart planning guidelines.

"If smart planning is repealed, we are back to being one of no more than five or six other states that don't have some sort of comprehensive planning guidance in state law."

House Republicans say the repeal represents responsible budgeting and shrinks the size of state government. Taylor points out that smart planning will actually save money in the long run with hazard-mitigation steps that save communities losses in terms of rebuilding and recovering after disasters.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA