Monday, May 30, 2011

Improving Safety and Security

The level of neighborhood safety can positively or negatively impact the health and social well-being of our neighborhoods.

What additional steps can be taken by this community to improve the physical environment in areas identified as lacking neighborhood safety and ensuring that new neighborhoods are designed to facilitate neighborhood safety?

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Educational Facilities

How can the strategies and policies for siting schools and other educational institutions positively impact the health and well-being of the community’s youth?

How can educational institutions at all levels contribute to the physical and emotional health and well-being of the neighborhoods in which they are located and to the larger community?

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Greenway Construction

Greenways provide opportunities for healthy outdoor recreation such as walking and biking and access to nature.

What strategies can be employed to increase funding for and accelerate the pace of trail construction including areas outside of Winston-Salem?

How can the private sector partner with government to implement plan recommendations?

What role can Forsyth Greenways Connection or other advocacy groups play in making a significant leap forward in the construction of trail miles?

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Parks and Open Space

Convenient, safe access to recreational facilities is directly correlated to an increase in the amount that people exercise.

How can implementation of the recommendations of the Parks and Open Space Plan and Area Plans be facilitated, in particular, land banking for proposed parks and funding for facilities?

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More Healthy Food Options

The availability of healthy food significantly impacts the health of a community. Without access to healthy foods, a nutritious diet and good health are out of reach for many.

How best can the community accommodate the surge in interest in community gardening and encourage participation in areas most lacking in healthy food choices?

What are the major challenges and opportunities to building a more equitable food system in our community?

What appropriate tools can be used to facilitate healthy food?

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Age-Friendly Communities

The specific needs of our children and senior citizens need to be addressed when designing new neighborhoods or retrofitting existing ones.

What steps need to be taken to address the issues identified as significant for the future of Forsyth County’s senior citizens, and improve their health and well-being?

What additional steps need to be taken to make our community more child-friendly and improve the health and well-being of our children?

How can providing more transportation options help with the health and well-being of younger and older populations?

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Improving Health Equity

Health disparities are differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions among various groups in any community.

What contribution can the comprehensive plan make to improving health equity in the community?

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Complete Communities

Communities that are designed so that residents can walk, bicycle or take transit to destinations provide opportunities to incorporate physical activity into daily life.

What can be done to increase the development of new mixed-use communities that facilitate active living?

What approach should be adopted to reduce the barriers to and provide more opportunities for physical activities in existing neighborhoods?

Give us your thoughts -- click "comments" below:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Safety and Security

A safe design that facilitates “eyes on the street”
The level of neighborhood safety can positively or negatively impact the health and social well-being of our neighborhoods. Current research suggests:
  • An association between crime or the fear of crime and lower levels of physical activity especially among women, children and the elderly
  • A lack of neighborhood safety discourages adults and children from walking or biking to destinations, children from playing outdoors and from using parks and other recreational facilities and, therefore, can negatively impact the health of a community or neighborhood
  • Children living in unsafe neighborhoods or those characterized by poor housing had a 30-60% higher likelihood of being obese or overweight than those living in better conditions
Aspects of the physical environment can encourage or discourage street crime. Physical features, layout, circulation patterns, the design of buildings and neighborhoods and amenities such as good lighting, trees, benches and other aesthetic qualities can impact crime prevention, neighborhood deterioration and residents’ fear of crime.
Designing to facilitate “eyes on the street”, buildings that have windows, doors and porches overlooking streets, parks and community open spaces, make for safer neighborhoods. Also, access to effective protective and emergency services encourage more people to frequent an area and can foster a sense of community and neighborhood safety.

In one study people who classified their neighborhood as “not at all safe” were three times more likely to be physically inactive during leisure time than those who considered their neighborhood to be “extremely safe”. The Winston-Salem Police Department Strategic Plan identifies among its priorities improving the quality of life and reducing conditions that foster crime and fear of crime. This includes a focus on parks, schools and other public areas. The Department is also working to improve community trust, interaction, involvement and accountability.

The Center for Community Safety at Winston-Salem State University focuses on the utilization of research to enhance response to community safety issues. It partners with the Winston-Salem Police Department and community groups on a number of projects and initiatives aimed at making the community and its neighborhoods safer such as the Weed and Seed Initiative, Project Safe Neighborhoods and Smart Policing Initiatives.

Educational Facilities & Health

Brunson Elementary School, Winston-Salem
Schools and other educational institutions are community assets. Not only should they provide quality education that fosters community equity, but they can contribute to community health and well-being in a variety of other ways including: locating in areas accessible by walking, biking and transit; providing opportunities for physical activities; and sharing schoolyards and sports facilities. Education facilities could also be used for community/learning gardens and community events.

Our Greenway System

Greenways are linear open space corridors that can be established along corridors, such as creeks, utility or railroad rights-of-way, scenic roads or other routes. They may take a variety of forms including waterfront walkways, bicycle paths or multi-use trails, urban walking trails, hiking trails and wildlife migration corridors. They provide opportunities for healthy outdoor recreation such as walking and biking and access to nature. In addition to providing exercise opportunities, greenways can connect neighborhoods to community facilities and to one another. The preservation of natural areas and open space are another benefit of greenway corridors.
Countywide surveys done prior to completion of the City-County Greenway Plan revealed that walking, hiking and biking ranked first among recreational activities most enjoyed by residents and first among the recreation facilities they feel are most urgently needed in the community. The following is the status of planning and implementation of our community’s greenway system:
  • Twenty-one miles of greenway trails have been constructed to date, most of them in Winston-Salem
  • The Greenway Plan adopted in 2002 is currently being updated
  • Additional proposals for greenways have been made in Area Plans adopted since 2002
  • The Greenway Plan update will focus on prioritizing construction of proposed greenway trails based on connectivity, engineering feasibility and public support
  • The primary source of funding in recent years has been federal transportation funds
  • Dedicated easements for future greenways are secured through the rezoning and subdivision process
  • Construction of trails has been slow and there is continuing resistance to their construction by property owners and residents in some areas

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Parks, Recreational Facilities and Open Space

Parks, recreational facilities and open space provide significant opportunities for physical activity and support mental health. Convenient, safe access to recreational facilities is directly correlated to an increase in the amount that people exercise. Green open spaces are important for mental health, particularly in denser urban environments, and help filter pollutants.
The goal of the 2006 City-County Parks and Open Space Plan is to provide a system of parks, preserved natural areas and recreation opportunities in Forsyth County, to improve the quality of life of residents and meet the needs of a diverse population (for a discussion on the preservation of Open Space and Farmland, see Chapter 7, Environmental Quality and Sustainability). A Community Needs Assessment, central to formulating Plan recommendations, took into consideration:
  • Existing and projected demand derived from community surveys
  • Existing and projected population distribution
  • Recommended standards for the provision of parks, recreation facilities and open space
  • The size, location and type of existing park, recreation facilities and open space
Recommendations were made in the plan to add park acreage in areas of existing or projected deficiencies, identify areas for natural resource preservation, upgrade and expand recreational facilities to meet identified needs, and complete feasibility studies for several potential park sites including existing and former landfill sites.
Since Plan adoption, additional potential sites for proposed new or expanded parks and recreational facilities have been identified through the Area Plan process. Master plans for some new and expanded park sites are currently being completed, while other master plans still need to be done. Also, there is some ongoing limited upgrading of existing parks and facilities.
Funding for the acquisition of land and the construction of new parks and facilities has, however, been limited. Feasibility studies for the potential of existing and former landfill sites for recreational use have not been completed.

Land Policy and Healthy Eating

Land use and urban design policies can play a role in shaping the food environment of the community and facilitate healthy eating. Land use policy can identify land for rural and urban agriculture, as well as sites near neighborhoods for retailing. Urban design and land use regulations can shape the food retail environment by considering the prevalence and types of food outlets in neighborhoods, and the location of food outlets, including their proximity to residential areas and schools.

Healthy Food Marketing

Marketing of healthy food can take a variety of forms. These include: supermarkets and groceries; restaurants with healthy food choices; mobile vending; corner or convenience stores that carry produce and other healthy food; and farmers markets, farm stands and produce stores where producers of fresh food sell directly to consumers.

Community Supported Agriculture is a direct form of marketing, whereby individual farms sell shares of their products to individuals, and distribute products either to designated drop-off sites or to customers’ homes. Healthy food retail outlets not only bring important health benefits to the community, but they can contribute to the economic vitality of the surrounding neighborhoods by bringing jobs to the area, raising the value of surrounding property and attracting additional businesses to the neighborhood.

Healthy Food Retailing

The abandoned Paragon Food Center on Old Rural Hall Road, Winston-Salem
Existing data suggests that healthy food retailing is not uniformly present throughout the county. The lack of grocery stores, markets and produce stores is particularly evident in the eastern part of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Neighborhoods affected include urban areas with a high concentration of minorities and high-household poverty along with rural neighborhoods. Fast food outlets and convenience stores appear to be the most prevalent form of food retailing in the eastern portion of Winston-Salem.

The lack of healthy food retailing can negatively impact eating choices since a growing body of evidence suggests that individuals usually make choices in the context of what is available in their communities and neighborhoods. Studies done in many communities found that residents with greater access to supermarkets or a greater abundance of healthy food in neighborhood stores consume more healthy food and have lower rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related health problems. An additional issue is that grocery items typically cost more in inner city areas than other neighborhoods.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Community Gardens

In many communities, vacant, underused land in urban areas has been transformed into community gardens. The community garden movement in Forsyth County traces its origin to 1992 and since then there has been a steady growth in the number of gardens. There are approximately 40+ existing community gardens, most of them in Winston-Salem. A recent surge in interest in community gardening has resulted in the establishment of a resource program by the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension to grow the community garden movement by providing resources to new and already established gardens.
The 2010 study, Community Gardens and Farmers Markets, Forsyth County defined community gardens as gardens where a group of residents worked gardens for the benefit of the community. The study identified challenges faced by the existing gardens and farmers markets where fresh produce is sold. Included in the study’s recommendations are:
  • Providing infrastructure to widen gardening and market programs
  • Focusing efforts on establishing and mentoring gardens in low-income and minority areas
  • Promoting programs that place local produce in neighborhood stores in low-income areas
  • Studying approaches used in other communities to support gardens and markets
  • Facilitating the use of City- or County-owned land for community gardens and farmers markets
  • Increasing the amount of foods produced by gardens
  • Encouraging school gardens
  • Evaluating the impact of community gardens and farmers markets on the local food environment

Keeping Fresh Food Close

From "North Carolina and its Resources," 1896
 The major factors identified as important for ensuring a community’s access to fresh, healthy food are protecting agricultural land and production on the edge of urban areas, facilitating forms of urban agriculture, and establishing farmers’ markets and retail establishments that carry a variety of healthy food. The Forsyth County Farmland Preservation Program is a voluntary program that has helped to preserve farming activities. The Voluntary Agricultural District program and the Agricultural Tourism Use Classification are two other tools recently employed by the county to assist in maintaining land on the periphery of urban areas in agricultural use.

Even with these tools in place, other tools for maintaining land on the urban fringe in agriculture and encouraging food production on these lands need to be explored. Urban Agriculture/Community Gardens are movements that have developed due to the concern for nutrition and the cost of shipping food around the nation. Urban farming can take a variety of forms and can include community gardens, rooftop gardening and hydroponic agriculture.

Access to Fresh Food

The availability of healthy food significantly impacts the health of a community. Without access to healthy foods, a nutritious diet and good health are out of reach for many. State data for 2007 indicates that only 20% of adults reported eating the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. One-third of North Carolina’s children typically consumed one serving or less of vegetables per day.

Studies have consistently shown that there are fewer supermarkets and other retail outlets selling affordable, nutritious food in low-income communities than in wealthier ones, and in predominantly African-American and Hispanic neighborhoods than in predominantly white neighborhoods. Recent research in Forsyth County reveals that only 40% of Forsyth County’s zip codes had good access to healthy food outlets such as grocery stores, produce stands and farmers markets. There are noticeable “grocery gaps” in some areas of our community. Concern about the availability of healthy, local food led to the establishment of a Local Foods Forum to consider approaches to improve the existing situation.

Creating a Senior-Friendly Community

Older adults (65+) currently represent 13% of Forsyth County’s population and are projected to represent 17% by 2030. The County must assess and address the needs of its increasing senior citizen population. The goal of Forsyth County Aging Services Planning Committee created in 1990 is to create a senior-friendly community in Forsyth County. Creating a senior-friendly society involves putting in place the facilities and infrastructure to support healthy and active aging. The 2010 report Thinking For the Future: Forsyth County’s Older Adults identified financial, health, transportation, safety, education and recreation issues of concern that need to be addressed. These include:
  • Maintaining the 65+ population in their homes when possible (80% own their home)
  • Making structural improvements necessary for ease of access
  • Maintaining the healthy outcomes currently experienced by older adults in the county
  • Ensuring that pharmacies and medical care facilities are distributed throughout the county
  • Expanding and improving transportation routes especially to rural areas
  • Ensuring a system is in place to address non-drivers
  • The limited use of recreation centers which may be a function of location
To address these issues and to provide for the projected increase in senior citizens, plan recommendations can consider ways to create new age-friendly communities. Strategies can include providing access to services, recreation and shopping, and age-friendly design encouraging safe walking and biking. Existing neighborhoods, where possible, should be made more age-friendly through retrofitting.

Creating a Child-Friendly Community

Children under the age of 17 currently represent 23% of Forsyth County’s population and are projected to represent approximately the same percentage of the population by 2030. As previously discussed, childhood obesity is recognized as a major health issue in Forsyth County. More than one-third of children and youth are overweight and 17% are obese.

Children need to be provided with the opportunity to walk or bike to school and other neighborhood destinations, play safely outdoors, live in a healthy environment, have access to healthy food and interact with their peers and elders. The auto-dependent character of most suburban developments has negative impacts on the health, well-being and development of children. The percentage of students who walk or bike to school has declined precipitously over the past three decades from 44% in 1969 to 13% in 2009. Children with few neighborhood amenities or lacking access to sidewalks, parks, playgrounds or recreation centers have 20-40% higher odds becoming obese or overweight.

Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have undertaken some initiatives to improve children’s physical activity and make the community more child-friendly including Winston-Salem/Forsyth County’s Safe Routes to School Pilot Program projects, sidewalk construction, the placement of bike racks in the vicinity of schools, parks and recreation facilities, and the establishment of school gardens/community gardens to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The Behealthy School Kids program is now in 17 elementary schools. The program supports healthier lifestyle choices through individual change and environmental policies.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

From Disparity to Equity

The need to move from health disparities to health equity in Forsyth County is important to community health and well-being. The issue is currently being addressed by a number of organizations including the Healthy Community Coalition of Forsyth County, a community advocacy group. One of the focus areas of the group is the link between neighborhood characteristics and health disparities. The group works with the City-County Planning Board to ensure that development in minority neighborhoods positively impacts the health of residents.

The Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Health Disparities at Winston-Salem State University has a mission to improve minority health outcomes and eliminate disparities within the community through research, education and community outreach. The Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity associated with Wake Forest University focuses on achieving health equity by moving scientific discovery to action.

At the state level, the Healthy Environments Collaborative has been established as a partnership between the Departments of Transportation, Commerce, Environmental and Natural Resources, and Health and Human Services. They have been meeting since 2006 to do policy analysis that will better align their efforts, provide technical assistance and develop tools for local officials. Also, a state-funded marketing effort, Share Your World, seeks to inform citizens of the opportunity to influence decisions made about the physical environment around them.

Causes of Health Disparities

The causes of health disparities in a community can encompass a range of factors which contribute to differences in the ability for all members of that community to gain equitable access to the resources that contribute to a healthy life. These factors range from disparities in education, income, access to jobs, adequate housing, healthy food and physical infrastructure that supports healthy and active lifestyles.

Research suggests that low-income households and minority populations are more likely to be at risk for health problems related to a lack of physical activity than the population at large. Recent national research identifies a significant association between race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status and lack of access to physical infrastructure such as sidewalks, bike paths, sports areas, parks and public pools. Furthermore, these individuals are less likely to be able to afford or access alternative forms of recreational facilities.

The absence of food options and the lack of access to grocery stores, which disproportionally affects minority populations, is well documented and is addressed in the following section on Food Access. Safety concerns in minority and low-income neighborhoods, which can have a negative impact on the heath of the residents of these neighborhoods, is addressed in the section on Safety and Security.

Local Health Disparities

Disparities exist in the health of our community’s residents. Health disparities are differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions among various groups in any community.

These disparities are most evident in the community’s minority populations. For all causes of death, the mortality rate among Forsyth County minorities for the period 2001-2005 was 34% higher than the mortality rate for whites. The minority infant mortality rate in Forsyth County is more than 2.5 times the Caucasian rate. The premature mortality rate per 100,000 population (age <65) in 2008 was 197 for Caucasians and 343 for African-Americans. Across the nation there are sharply higher rates of overweight and obesity among African-American and Hispanic children and adolescents. These youth, therefore, suffer higher risk of developing chronic diseases. In North Carolina in 2008, 41% of African-American children 10-17 years were overweight or obese compared with 28% of white children; in 2009 42% of Hispanic children 2-18 years were overweight or obese compared with 30% for non-Hispanic children.

Walkability and Bikability

“Walkability and bikability” audits have been completed for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. The audits showed that destinations such as schools, libraries, shopping and other community facilities are within walking distance (1/4 mile) of only 20% of neighborhoods and less than that in low-income neighborhoods. The audits also pointed out that ample street calming measures are in less than 20% of neighborhoods, and that a continuous network of biking routes exists within only 20% of neighborhoods.

“Walk Score” measures the walkability of any area and how easy it is to live with fewer car trips in that area. Winston-Salem received an average Walk Score of 35 out of 100 for rankings done nationwide. For the smaller municipalities, scores were: Kernersville 37; Clemmons 23; and Lewisville 20. This compares to a Walk Score of 75 for Boone, 51 for Asheville, 39 for Charlotte, 48 for Wilmington and 53 for Chapel Hill.
Walking and biking to destinations is facilitated by the construction of
Complete Streets, retrofitting existing streets, improving street connectivity, creating livable streets and employing traffic calming. All of these topics are discussed in detail in Chapter 5,Transportation.

Design for Active Living

Active living is a way of life that integrates physical activity into daily routines. An active living community is designed to provide opportunities for residents of all ages and abilities to engage in routine daily physical activity. Available state data for Forsyth County reveals that only 42% of residents meet the recommended level of physical activity of 30 minutes or more per day for five or more days per week.

An emerging body of research points to connections between community design and community health. The mix of land uses, the density of development and the physical layout of our communities can promote or restrict active living and healthy development. Communities that are designed so that residents can walk, bicycle or take transit to destinations provide opportunities to incorporate physical activity into daily life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Forsyth County Health

A snapshot of the state of health of Forsyth County’s residents is cause for concern. A 2011 national study ranking of 100 counties in North Carolina based on health outcomes ranked Forsyth County 22nd, lagging behind all the state’s main urban counties in overall health. One out of four people in Forsyth County is obese while one in five across the nation is obese. Data from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics revealed that in 2009, 66% of county residents were classified as obese or overweight. Also, in 2009 Forsyth County had 9.9 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births compared to 7.9 for North Carolina.

There has been a growing recognition of the need to act on several fronts.
The Pioneering Healthier Communities initiative is a community leadership strategy to facilitate active living and healthier eating through policy and environmental changes. The 2010 State of the County Health Report for Forsyth County identified healthy neighborhoods and healthy housing as emerging issues in Forsyth County, vital for residents well-being.

What are other communities doing?

City of South Gate, CA
This is the first time that Forsyth County has included a specific chapter on Healthy Communities in its comprehensive plan. However, several communities have included chapters in their recent comprehensive plans that directly address the issues of community health and well-being. Good examples of these include:
  • The Greenville, SC Comprehensive Plan completed in 2007 includes a chapter on Healthy Living and a Pedestrian-Friendly Environment which focuses on creating mixed-use residential/commercial areas; making urban environments biker- and pedestrian-friendly; creating community green spaces for parks and gardens; formulating design standards for Pedestrian Overlay Districts; encouraging healthy lifestyles (including improving food options); and evaluating health-related decisions (health impact assessments).
  • The Richmond, CA General Plan finished in 2009 includes a chapter on Community Health and Wellness which sets a critical path for improving conditions that will foster the physical health and emotional well-being of residents. 
  • The South Gate General Plan 2035 (located in the Los Angeles Metro Area) includes a “Healthy Community Element” which addresses South Gate’s key health issues and challenges including high rates of obesity; barriers to physical activity; lack of access to nutritious food and health care; unsafe streets for walking, driving and cycling; poor air quality; and vulnerable populations.

How have Legacy Healthy Community Strategies worked?

Benchmarks identified in Legacy, with the possible exception of a benchmark on air quality, were not intended to measure improvement in the community’s health. However, many of the goals and objectives throughout Legacy that have been acted on do address issues that impact health and equity. The completion of studies on parks, greenways, bicycling and pedestrian facilities clearly help to provide opportunities for recreation and exercise. Measures for protecting water quality (see Chapter 7) should provide a cleaner and healthier environment to live in. The Triad Air Quality Compact and the Tree Ordinance will work improve the air we all breathe. The Traffic Calming program put in place by the City of Winston-Salem will make the walking environment safer for pedestrians. The Revitalizing Urban Commercial Areas (RUCA) program has been helping to stimulate growth in “slow growing” and struggling communities.

While we have done well on recreation opportunities and environmental regulations, we have not done as well on other Legacy items. There have been few mixed-use/compact developments actually built in the county, an important factor in creating
Complete Communities. Our transit system has grown very little, making it harder for those without cars to access jobs, services, health care and healthy food choices.

Lack of funding for projects including farmland preservation, new parks, recreational facilities and open space also remains an obstacle to creating a healthier community.

What Planning Issues affect Health and Equity?

Planning issues and policies that affect the creation of complete, equitable communities and community health and well-being include:
  • Land use policy and design that encourages compact, mixed-use communities with accessibility to employment, shopping, health, education, recreational opportunities and services
  • Land use policy that facilitates viable local rural and urban agriculture.
  • Land use policy that facilitates development in underserved and slow growth areas
  • Designing active living communities/neighborhoods that promote healthier, more active lifestyles
  • Designing age-friendly communities/neighborhoods that address the specific needs of children, the elderly and physically challenged
  • Planning and designing communities/neighborhoods to facilitate the use of alternative transportation modes that promote physical activity including biking, walking and transit
  • Transportation policies that facilitate access to jobs, health facilities/services, healthy eating choices, recreation and other community facilities
  • Providing a range of accessible active and passive recreation facilities that contribute to the physical and mental health of the community
  • Providing other community infrastructure, including health, safety and education infrastructure, that meets the needs of all residents of varying demographic and socio-economic groups including children, the elderly, low-income, minority, physically and mentally challenged residents
  • Land use policy, urban design and transportation policy to reduce air pollution

What Legacy tasks have been completed to create Healthy, Complete & Equitable Communities?

What does Legacy say about Healthy, Complete and Equitable Communities?

  • Encourage mixed-use development
  • Promote land use patterns and design standards that support public transit, walking and bicycling and reduce automobile trips
  • Design streets to facilitate the use of all modes of transportation
  • Expand public transportation into a countywide transit system
  • Create a bikeway/sidewalk/ greenway network that provides alternative means of transportation and recreational opportunities
  • Improve air quality, which protects the health of our citizens
  • Stimulate new development in slow growth areas
  • Provide parks and recreational facilities to meet the needs of a diverse population
  • Create a system of open spaces that provide recreational opportunities and enjoyment of nature
  • Create a network of greenways that link neighborhoods and activity areas
  • Preserve farmland and open space
  • Develop compact, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods that contain a mixture of residential and commercial buildings, public spaces and amenities, and offer a variety of transportation options
  • Provide convenient and high quality medical facilities throughout Forsyth County
  • Create communities that are friendly and accessible places for older and disabled people
  • Factor safety into the design of developments, neighborhoods and communities
  • Locate and design educational facilities which provide quality education and are assets to neighborhoods
  • Ensure that a comprehensive program of solid waste management protects public health and the environment

Legacy Update: Healthy, Complete & Equitable Communities

The health effects of living in sprawling communities or in distressed city or rural areas have been the subject of much discussion in recent years. Studies and discussions at the national, state and local levels over the last 10 years have made a strong connection between the goal of improving the quality of life of a community’s residents and the emerging issues of public health and social well-being. A comprehensive plan that seeks to create healthy, complete and equitable communities provides an opportunity to address important aspects of these issues.

Complete Communities are walkable communities with a variety of supportive uses comprised of people from diverse age groups, backgrounds and incomes. They provide a variety of places to live and convenient access to jobs, multi-modal transportation options, community facilities, recreation, green space and access to healthy food. They reduce air pollution by reducing auto-dependency. Complete Communities, because they facilitate healthy, active living and equality of access to community services and infrastructure, are ideal places for growing up, and for growing old.

The 2001 Legacy Plan, to a limited extent, directly and indirectly addressed the issues of community health and social well-being. Implementation of specific recommendations in the chapters on growth management, transportation alternatives, open space, parks, greenways, environmental quality, community life and building better neighborhoods have also served to benefit the health and social well-being of the community, but these impacts have not generally been emphasized. The Legacy Update provides an opportunity to focus more directly on the creation of Complete Communities which facilitate healthy living, age-friendly communities, active aging and social equity.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lands in Need of Protection

More protection has been put in place since the adoption of the 2001 Legacy Plan for watersheds, floodplains and wetland protection. However, Natural Heritage sites are for the most part in private ownership and are not protected from development.

How important is it to protect these sites?

What policies or strategies can be developed that will make land use conservation and the reuse/redevelopment of existing sites economically feasible and a desirable option for future development?

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Open Space, Land Conservation and Farmland Preservation

Open space is preserved in a number of ways in our community including through the purchase of property, obtaining easements, and the preservation of farmland.

How can we as a community further incorporate land conservation into our goals for the future?

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Environmental Pollution Prevention

Pollution issues are numerous and complex.

What sources of pollution (air, water, land) are of the greatest concern for our community?

What tools should be utilized to better protect our natural environment from future pollution?

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Noise & Light Pollution

Noise and light pollution are becoming bigger issues as more of our community urbanizes.

Is noise and light pollution an environmental issue that should be further addressed within the Legacy Update?

If so, what policies or regulations should be implemented to better address these two issues?

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Urban Forestry and Tree Preservation

Winston-Salem adopted its first comprehensive tree ordinance in 2009 which covers both tree removal and tree planting on sites that come in for development review.

Is the current tree ordinance or its application only to the City of Winston-Salem sufficient?

What other tools should be used to preserve our existing tree canopy and promote its expansion?

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Green Building (LEED)

Green buildings have multiple benefits for land, the environment, health, and natural resources.

Should green building practices be required with new building design, or are incentives a more appropriate method of incorporating green building practices into future development?
If so, what type of incentives would be most beneficial to achieving our goal of sustainable growth?

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Low-Impact Development (LID)

LID practices make site design environmental-friendly and reduce infrastructure costs.

What role does Low-Impact Development practices have in the future growth of the county?

Should LID practices be incorporated into the site design requirements that are reviewed by City and County staff?

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