Livable Communities

Livable Communities is a concept from the planning sector as a vision to create cost-efficient, well-designed, safe and healthy communities. Turns out the concept preserves existing towns, stimulates the economy, enhances transportation, and improves health.

A simple explanation of “Livable Communities” follows
  • Encourage development in current towns saving the rural landscape for farming and forestry. This reduces sprawl, redevelops existing downtowns, and improves existing infrastructure, like water, water treatment, sidewalks and roads.
  • Promote construction of varied housing types in town for varying income and age levels.  Building apartments, condos, townhouses and free-standing homes on smaller sites in town creates more affordable housing. Homes built in “livable communities” appreciate faster, improving town economy and personal investment. When people of all incomes and ages live nearby in well-designed residences, socialization and neighborliness produces safer and healthier outcomes for all.
  • Support transportation options.  Pedestrian transportation enhancements, like safe sidewalks and bike lanes, improve mobility without using a car. Bus transportation helps people to go further. Fewer cars reduces carbon emissions, resulting in cleaner air and healthier people.
  • Encourage desirable amenities within walking distance.  Grocery, medical, library, education, arts and play facilities built within a town’s create walking destinations. More in-town residents make in-town facilities economically viable, creating jobs and active living by design.

While a town-based initiative isn’t a panacea for rural health issues, it is a place to start.  Eastern Shore Healthy Communities is encouraging Accomack and Northampton Counties to adopt Livable Communities language within their comprehensive plans and has made presentations in Chincoteague, Onancock, Exmore and Cape Charles in hopes that Virginia’s Eastern Shore’s largest towns will likewise adopt Livable Communities language in their comprehensive plans.

 

Work Group Co-Chairs are Susan Simon (Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission) and Paul Berge (retired Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commisson)