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Regional Organizations Take the Lead

Implementing the Regional Vision: Regional Oraganizations Take the Lead

As focus shifts from asking the question “How Shall We Grow?” to implementing the shared vision articulated by citizens and leaders alike over the last 18 months, the five Metropolitan Planning Organizations and two Regional Planning Councils that represent the seven counties of Central Florida are stepping forward to lead the effort of turning tomorrow’s vision into today’s reality.
The Florida Legislature has designated the MPOs to serve as the transportation planning organization in their respective county and also designates the RPCs to serve as the land use planning organization within a region.  Because the Board of Directors for each organization consists of elected officials, who ultimately will have the greatest authority in implementing the themes and principles of the regional vision, these organizations are well positioned to serve as leaders in moving the vision forward.
The Regional Growth Vision provides, for the first time, a clear look at how the region can combine land use and transportation needs to create a future that moves away from our current pattern of sprawl and toward a future where land use and transportation needs are considered simultaneously. The MPOs and RPCs have the opportunity to use this vision as a baseline as they work with city and county leaders on future growth plans.
Below are some specific actions that organizations across the region are taking to move the region from the current trend to a desired future:
East Central Florida Regional Planning Council
After serving as the technical leader for the “How Shall We Grow?” Project, the ECFRPC is continuing to focus cities and counties in Central Florida on the importance of using the regional vision as a guide when updating comprehensive plans. Executive Director Phil Laurien has made numerous presentations to community organizations and elected officials in the region. He also recently served on a panel for a discussion hosted by the UCF Metropolitan Center for Regional Studies about land use and visioning. The ECFRPC is also serving as the technical coordinator for the development of the Central Florida “Important Ecological Resource Areas” Map, which will help define the scientifically significant environmental lands in the seven county region.
Central Florida Regional Planning Council
After helping support the “How Shall We Grow?” Project, Patricia Steed, Executive Director of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, which includes Polk County, is now working to develop a Heartland 2060 Vision for the counties in that planning district. The first meeting of community leaders and citizens was held on September 19 and enthusiasm was strong as the counties begin looking at how they envision the future. Shelley Lauten, Director of myregion.org served as the moderator for that meeting and was able to provide input on the vision project done in Central Florida and how the Heartland Region can use the lessons learned from that process while developing their own vision.
Brevard County Metropolitan Planning Organization
As the first step toward developing its 2030 Long Range Plan, Bob Kamm, Executive Director of the Brevard County MPO invited representatives from myregion.org to update their Community Advisory Board, Technical Advisory Committee and Board of Directors on the results of the “How Shall We Grow?” project. The Board will now determine how the results from the regional vision should be incorporated into their planning process.
Lake/Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization
Lake/Sumter MPO Executive Director T.J. Fish has been working with Lake County Manager Cindy Hall to engage elected officials from all cities and the county in a series of meetings to discuss how Lake County should approach growth in the short and long-term future. Two meetings have been held and the participation from across the county has been outstanding as the county leaders are beginning to recognize the importance of developing a common vision for the future of Lake County. Participation in the meetings by Phil Laurien and Shelley Lauten has helped provide a regional landscape for how the future of Lake County connects with the other counties in Central Florida.
During their annual board retreat, the Board of Directors for METROPLAN ORLANDO, which includes elected officials and transportation leaders from Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties, asked the questions “How Shall We Go As We Grow?” Their answer: Smart, coordinated planning between land use and transportation, including a greater emphasis on transit.    
Executive Director Harry Barley asked the Board to provide feedback on a variety of survey questions related to transportation. The Board unanimously agreed with three statements about future transportation planning:

  • Our land use plans should support the development of transit corridors.
  • The continuation of current land use patterns and our dependence on the automobile are not sustainable for our region’s future.
  • In the new Year 2030 plan, substantially more emphasis needs to be placed on increasing our transit system, both rail and bus.

Polk County Transportation Planning Organization
Under the leadership of the Board of Directors, consisting of both city and county leaders, and Executive Director Tom Deardorff, the Polk TPO is preparing a Transportation Vision Plan to provide a concept plan or framework for transportation investments through the year 2050.  This Vision Plan will support the implementation of the Central Florida Regional Growth Vision and will be based on the 4 C’s – Conservation, Countryside, Centers and Corridors.  Upon adoption, this Vision Plan will guide future updates of the TPO’s Transportation Improvement Plan, which typically has a 20 – 25 year horizon. 
The Transportation Vision Plan will identify:
  ·  Future city centers with population forecasts;
  ·  Greenway systems and trails;
  ·  Transportation corridors to connect the city centers;
  ·  Travel options or mode choices for the transportation corridors;
  ·  Land use strategies to support future transportation investments;
  ·  Target areas for increased density to support multi-modal options; and
  ·  Corridor preservation techniques.
Volusia County Metropolitan Planning Organization
The Volusia County MPO is also preparing to update their long-range transportation plan and is looking to include the principles and themes of the Regional Vision in their planning. Executive Director Karl Welzenbach also recently represented all the “How Shall We Grow?” partners during a discussion about the Regional Vision Project on the WMFE “This Week” television program.
Central Florida Joint Policy Framework Committee
Comprised of the Chair or Immediate Past Chair from each County Commission, a Mayor representing the cities in each county and two representatives of the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition, the Joint Policy Framework Committee was instrumental in developing the Regional Compact and Regional Policy Framework that were adopted as part of the Regional Growth Vision. The committee was developed specifically for the “How Shall We Grow?” Project, but has determined that they also should play an important role in encouraging all the cities and counties to take the steps necessary to ensure implementation of the vision. 
While the technical experts and elected officials take the lead in implementation of the regional vision, myregion.org, which spearheaded the community engagement element of the project, is focusing on its role as convener and educator. Since the beginning of the “How Shall We Grow?” Project, myregion.org staff members and other partners have conducted community meetings and presentations across the region. myregion.org will be hosting the next meeting of the Central Florida Joint Policy Framework Committee on Thursday, October 25, 2007.
The Regional Vision outlined six key principles that the Joint Policy Committee, the cities and counties and the regional organizations will all be using as their guide:

  ·  Foster Distinct, Attractive, and Safe Places to Live.
  ·  Encourage a Diverse, Globally Competitive Economy.
  ·  Create a Range of Obtainable Housing Opportunities and Choices.
  ·  Build Communities with Educational, Health Care, and Cultural Amenities.
Creating success in these areas will help move Central Florida from a future that few desire to one where all residents can continue to live, learn work and play.