Planning and zoning have far-reaching implications for community life, dictating, for example, how well residential areas are connected to businesses, medical services, and community and civic centers.
- Historically, planning and zoning separated commercial and residential land uses. This practice, promoting car-dependent sprawl, was adopted at a time when older adults constituted a smaller demographic of the population and life expectancies were shorter. The result today is a significant number of older adults who are aging in suburbia.
- Increasingly, communities are embracing Smart Growth, a set of planning principles that promote more compact, walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, environmentally sensitive communities with a range of transportation and housing choices.
- Demand is coming not only from older adults, but from individuals across the lifespan.
- While Smart Growth benefits everyone in a community, good community design is a fundamental necessity to successfully age in place. It can promote social cohesion and physical activity and connectivity to available public transit and essential services.
- Zoning can be used to promote housing arrangements that support
residents across the lifespan by
- Including accessory dwelling units and shared housing;
- Reducing minimum lot sizes to allow for higher-density development; and
- Encouraging universal design features in new construction.
Recommendations for Communities
_____ Ensure that municipal plans of conservation and development include planning for older adults and individuals with disabilities to remain in their homes and communities, pursuant to Public Act 13-250.
_____ Revise zoning codes to promote safe, intergenerational communities by maximizing opportunities for Smart Growth. Smart Growth includes:
- Mixing land uses;
- Taking advantage of compact building design;
- Creating a range of housing opportunities and choices;
- Creating walkable neighborhoods;
- Fostering distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place;
- Preserving critical environmental areas;
- Strengthening and directing development towards existing communities;
- Providing a variety of transportation choices;
- Making development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective; and
- Encouraging stakeholder collaboration in development decisions
_____ Create diverse, accessible and affordable housing and transportation choices by
- Promoting housing arrangements to support residents across the lifespan, including accessory dwelling units and shared housing;
- Reducing minimum lot sizes to allow for higher-density development;
- Encouraging universal design features in new construction;
- Adopting policies that support complete streets, transit-oriented development, and robust fixed-route and demand responsive transportation systems; and
- Conduct health, environmental, and economic impact assessments to ensure that land use planning projects and policies take into consideration the potential implications of community design on all residents.
- Fiscal Implcations of Development Patterns
- Conservation and Development Policies: The Plan for Connecticut (2013-2018)
- Connecticut Zoning Initiative
- Sustainable Land Use Code Project. Model Regulations
- Capitol Regional Green Clearinghouse
- Promoting Housing Options for Older Adults through Zoning
- Promote Sustainable and Equitable Development Toolkit
- Halfway There: How to Create Land Use Policy That Makes the Most of Connecticut’s Transit Network
- Multigenerational Planning: Using smart growth and universal design to link the needs of children and the aging population
- American Planning Association Smart Growth Policy Guide
- American Planning Association Aging in Community Policy Guide
- The Smart Growth Network
- Change Lab Solutions’ Pedestrian Friendly Code Directory
- Health Impact Assessment Fact Sheet