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How zoning stunts or helps urban agriculture, Tri-C green courses grow and green design's impact

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/19/10 @ 9:00pm

  • Cleveland isn't the only city 'ReImagining' vacant land – dozens of U.S. cities are updating rules to enable food production on abandoned properties. "Zoning for Urban Agriculture," a new report in March's American Planning Association publication "Zoning Practice", is a fine summary of cities removing restrictive zoning or policies to growing and selling food or raising livestock. Cleveland is mentioned in the article – for its urban garden overlay zoning – among the dozen or so cities that either have a zoning overlay to protect gardens from being plowed under for development or have changed their zoning to allow agriculture as a permitted 'use'.

    Just one of the many, good suggestions from the report: To promote widespread urban food production, planners should reconsider provisions limiting height of vegetation growing in yards or in rights of way. Madison, Wisconsin did the latter, and that opened the way for the Atwood Community Garden and a prairie restoration project alongside the Capital City Bike Trail. Madison also added urban agriculture as an open space requirement to its Planned Unit Developments: As a result, Troy Gardens completely integrates community gardens, an organic farm and a CSA into a housing development – that's smart planning, leveraging your vacant land when developers decide to come calling.

    Nina Mukherji, who earned a master's degree in conservation biology and sustainable development, and Alfonso Morales, an assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are the authors of the article (which is only available to APA members).

  • Tri-C's Green Academy and Center for Sustainability continues to expand its offerings with new courses in "How to LEED your clients to sustainability: Green Building 101" and "Understanding the Triple Bottom Line: Sustainability & Business". These summer professional development programs join Tri-C's certificate programs: Building Performance Institute Building Analyst, Envelope Shell Professional, Landscape Horticulture, Green Associate and Organic Gardening. For more information go here.
  • Metropolis Magazine's March issue is strong on sustainable design. It starts with a review of Museum of Modern Art's Rising Currents, an exhibit where designs such as the 'glass reef'-made from recycled bottles-respond to New York City's need for protection from climate-induced rising sea levels. An Israeli designer has developed a concept for a renewably powered chicken coop, but it has raised the hackles of Galilee's urban farmers. An interview with William J. Mitchell, who directs the Smart Cities research group at MIT's Media Lab, and two industry experts, General Motors' Christopher E. Borroni-Bird and Lawrence D. Burns (formerly of GM), dives into the car reimagined. Their book envisions urban design and personal mobility transformed by the GM/Segway PUMA car and MIT's CityCar which can plug into or supply energy to the grid, and also 'fold' up into a 4 ft. space at the curb. "Look, the architecture of the traditional automobile has been around for a hundred years," Mitchell says, "and responds to a set of conditions that made sense in the year of Henry Ford but doesn't make sense anymore."
  • A $12 million donation by the Maltz Family Foundation to Case to restore and adaptively reuse the Temple at University Circle as a performing arts center (and an agreement that allows Temple Tifereth-Israel to continue to hold its High Holiday services and Citizen's Academy to operate a school there) makes it a very good week for Case and historic preservation in Cleveland. The Temple is one of the city's most significant buildings, and now it will get the much needed restoration (just as this week's announcement that Case received a $2 million donation to restore the 1897 Hitchcock Center). A serious committment to historic preservation highlights how important the early 20th century architecture in University Circle is in attracting millions of visitors.

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