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UCF Aids Volusia County in Smart Growth Project

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By Sara Cooper

Faculty members and graduate students from the Department of Public Administration and staff from the Florida Institute of Government at UCF recently assisted with the Volusia County Smart Growth Initiative.

Associate Professors Wendell Lawther and Jay Jurie, along with five graduate students in the Master of Public Administration program, provided technical assistance to the Volusia Smart Growth Implementation Committee. The committee was facilitated by Marilyn Crotty, director of the Florida Institute of Government at UCF, and Rafael Montalvo, associate director of the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium.

Smart growth is intended to reduce urban sprawl, help the environment and enhance quality of life, all of which are concerns for Volusia County, located along Florida's northeast coast.

In 2003 the Volusia County Association for Responsible Development (VCARD) sponsored a series of smart growth summits to educate the community on how to accommodate growth without diminishing quality of life. The summits led to the appointment of the Smart Growth Implementation Committee composed of individuals representing cities, county, private sector, environmental and agricultural interests in Volusia County. Four work groups were established to study different aspects of smart growth: development and redevelopment, agriculture, environment and economy.

From fall 2004 through spring 2005, each work group met with the facilitators, students, and faculty members from UCF to identify issues and questions important to smart growth. Intensive research completed by UCF helped uncover success stories found in areas similar to Volusia County and was presented to the work groups through presentations and white papers.

"This highly visible community process could serve as a model for the state and nation as an appropriate way to address the impacts of growth," said Lawther.

The project is one of many partnership efforts between the College of Health and Public Affairs and Central Florida communities.

"This project was an example of a successful collaborative process and is currently in the process of being implemented," said Crotty.

Click here to view the final report that was presented to the Volusia County Council in August 2005.

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