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Coastal and Waterfront Smart Growth Web site

Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities (pdf, 2.52 mb)


NOAA Offers Smart Growth Help for Coastal and Waterfront Communities

A new guide brings smart growth to coastal and waterfront communities.

NOAA, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the International City/County Management Association, and Rhode Island Sea Grant, developed the new guide and a companion Web site to respond to a need cited by local decision makers for more coastal-specific smart growth approaches. This partnership unites NOAA’s experience working with coastal communities and EPA’s expertise in Smart Growth.

Living near the water has historically been, and is expected to remain, desirable. The water, beaches, cliffs, rocky shores, and other natural features attract people and spur development. But many coastal and waterfront communities have found that conventional development patterns threaten the assets they treasure most. Smart growth approaches—guided by a set of principles that help communities grow in ways that expand economic opportunity, protect public health and the environment, and enhance places that people care about—can help these communities accommodate development while protecting their traditional sense of place.

Community street

Compact, historic, pedestrian-friendly development patterns provide a strong sense of place in Annapolis, Maryland.

The new guidebook, Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities, offers a winning playbook for coastal communities — an opportunity to address a community’s need to prosper, while at the same time protecting their unique sense of place. This guidebook is based on principles established by the Smart Growth Network and focuses on coastal and waterfront specific applications.

Among its recommendations, the report suggests that communities:

NOAA icon Use natural buffers to protect people and property from potential hazards;

NOAA icon Preserve and restore critical environmental areas; and

NOAA icon Plan for public access to waterfront and coastal waters.

Coastal development

A revitalized waterfront can be a catalyst for increased commercial and recreational activities in coastal communities.

“Coastal and waterfront communities face development pressures that could affect their economy, environment, and quality of life for decades to come,”said Jack Dunnigan, NOS Assistant Administrator. “These coastal and waterfront smart growth guidelines will help communities plan for growth and development while protecting their natural and economic resources, maritime heritage, and traditional sense of place.”

The elements presented in this guidebook complement the existing smart growth principles to reflect the challenges and opportunities characterizing the waterfront – whether it be a coast, river, or lake. These elements will help communities grow in ways that are compatible with their natural assets – creating great places for residents, visitors, and businesses.