SMART Planning Bill Draws Serious Concerns

Now that the intensity of the 2008 flood is over the RIO office is turning its attention to statewide planning.

Senate File 2265 is a RIO bill creating a permanent 31 member comprehensive planning task force. The bill also codifies “SMART” comprehensive planning principles for state, regional, county and city planning.

The “SMART” planning is a project management tool developed by psychologists as a tool to help set and reach goals. This model features goal setting that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

Concerns about this RIO bill are mounting. Is now the time to create a 31 member permanent task force? Also the language in the bill creates an obligation for local governments to consider SMART planning principles that happen to include a good deal of code words tossed around by environmentalists. The local governments may choose not to follow the principles in the Code but they must consider them.

The need for the legislation is being called into question given the planning already underway in many communities and through the existing regional COGs.

Consider for yourself the merits of the bill. SF 2265 does four things:

  1. Puts in Iowa law 10 “SMART” planning principles that the state, local governments and other public entities “shall consider and may apply” when deliberating planning, zoning, development and resource management decisions.
  2. Puts in Iowa law planning guidelines that cities and counties “shall consider and may apply”
  3. Puts in Iowa’s zoning laws for cities, counties and airports language saying that their planning “shall be made with consideration of the SMART planning principles
  4. Creates a new 31 member task force staffed by the RIO office and the department of management. The task force members are not compensated or reimbursed for expenses. The task force “develops recommendations for administration of a state comprehensive plan.” The task force also:
    • Develops a model regional comprehensive plan;
    • Creates a centralized electronic storage location for all city and county comprehensive plan
    • Provides and administers technical and financial assistance for state a local comprehensive planning.

Task Force recommendations are due to the Governor and General Assembly by November 15, 2010.