The KCMO stream setback ordinance: Science, public involvement, and water quality protection

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Brown, Laurie
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Tara L. Clapp
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Community and Regional Planning

Community and regional planning is a professional field of study aimed at assessing the ever-changing socioeconomic and physical environments of our communities and planning for their future. Planners evaluate and seize opportunities to understand and solve problems. Most planners work at the local level, but they are concerned with issues that affect the world: the preservation and enhancement of the quality of life in a community, the protection of the environment, the promotion of equitable economic opportunity; and the management of growth and change of all kinds.

The Department of Community and Regional Planning was established in 1978 when it was split from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Community Planning.

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This case study evaluates the suitability of the Kansas City, Missouri Stream Setback Ordinance as a model ordinance that illustrates the integration of science and public involvement in an effort to achieve water quality protection. Nationally, there is a vast knowledge base on appropriate riparian buffer widths that can provide the scientific foundation many communities are looking for to legally and politically defend a riparian buffer program. Many communities are recognizing the economic value of protecting water resources for the benefit of public infrastructure, health, and community quality of life. The City of Kansas City ordinance meets multiple community objectives from stormwater management to recreation and wildlife habitat, while minimizing the impact to developable land. By taking an ecosystem approach to development of the setback ordinance, the City of Kansas City ordinance balances environmental, economic, and social factors. The City can conserve functional riparian forest buffers which can enhance and improve water quality, and provide habitats for wildlife and recreational opportunities for people, and in turn enhance quality of life within the communities that make up Kansas City. Implementation of the setback ordinance illustrates that Kansas City has taken a major step toward improving water quality and protecting other valuable resources that will require less economic input while providing greater social and environmental benefits. This study clearly illustrates the integral components community planners and decision-makers can use in the development of buffer ordinances that meet their ecosystem planning goals.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2010