Land use planning guidelines
Land Use & Community Planning
Why Design Guidelines? (Slide show)
Looks Count

Design Guidelines (63 pages)

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Design Guidelines
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Design Guidelines to Enhance Community Appearance and Protect Natural Resources (2004)

- a guidebook for citizens, decision-makers, and youth


Unplanned or poorly planned development can have significant impacts on natural and cultural resources in the western Great Lakes region. Communities want their economies to grow without losing what makes them special-scenic landcapes, historic downtowns, and places of unique cultural character.

To facilitate a greater understanding of community planning tools and natural resource “Best Management Practices,” a group of educators has developed a 65-page guidebook Design Guidelines to Enhance Community Appearance and Protect Natural Resources that compares traditional development to a more visually appealing approach that also protects natural and cultural resources. Tools to accomplish the recommended approach are suggested.

The guidebook features line drawings and color photos that visually address twenty of the most common development issues, including: shoreline development, water quality and storm water management, landscape character protection, visual corridors, pedestrian accessibility, historic preservation, signage, lighting, parking lot design, building appearance, residential and commercial aesthetics, and cell towers.

“We wanted a tool that would help to create an informed electorate and encourage public participation in the planning process,” explains Joan Chadde, Education Program Coordinator for the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, MI. “People don’t realize they have choices. The issue is always presented as “growth or no growth,” but that just isn’t so.”

The guidebook, along with other educational resources, are being used in classrooms, citizen workshops, teacher professional development, and provided to communities throughout the western Great Lakes region. The Smart Growth Network selected the guidebook for inclusion on their Smart Growth Shareware CD that is being distributed to 10,000 communities nationwide.

The guidebook was developed by Joan Chadde, along with teachers Linda Rulison, Ruth Ann Smith, Jean Dunstan, Jenn Klipp, and City of Houghton planning commission member, Kristine Bradof.

Funding from The Dunn Foundation of Newport, Rhode Island, and The Wege Foundation of Grand Rapids, MI supported development. Printing was funded with grants from the Smart Growth Network and the Americana Foundation, along with contributions from the Central Lake Superior Watershed Partnership, Houghton Rotary Club, League of Women Voters of the Copper Country, and the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation.

Twenty of the most common development issues are addressed:
  • Signs
  • Parking lot design
  • Franchises
  • Residential/Commercial aesthetics
  • Water quality protection
  • Visual corridors
  • Historic preservation
  • lighting
  • Building appearance
  • Ridge development
  • Shoreline development
  • Landscape character protection
  • Pedestrian accessibility
  • Camouflaging cell towers.

To Purchase Copies of Design Guidelines guidebook:

The Design Guidelines guidebook may be purchased for $10/copy, or $5/each for 10+ copies.

Make checks payable to: "Michigan Technological University"

Order Form (PDF)

Please send check, purchase order, or credit card numbers & expiration date to:

Contact Joan Chadde:
Program Coordinator
105 Dillman Hall - Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Dr., Houghton, MI 49931-1295
Tel: 906-487-3341
Fax: 906-487-1620


Land use planning lesson plans
Please Click to go to Looks Count Website


Check out our other publication:
Looks Count!
Community Planning, Natural Resource Protection and the Visual Environment
An Interdisciplinary Middle School Curriculum Unit
for Social Studies, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Art

Prior to developing the guidebook, the Center worked with area teachers to develop a middle school curriculum unit titled Looks Count! containing 15 social studies and science lessons. The curriculum has been presented at several teacher workshops and professional education conferences including the National Science Teachers Association, Michigan Science Teachers Association, and the North American Environmental Education Association.

Copyright © 2005, 2006,2007 by Michigan Technological University.

All rights reserved. The sale or commercial use of text, illustrations, photographs, and graphic images presented are not permitted. Educational uses are permitted on a limited basis, provided credit is given to the authors. Prior written permission of the primary author is required before broadly disseminating any part of this publication in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise.

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