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Low-impact development project wins state award

A N.C. Cooperative Extension-led educational project on development practices to protect water quality recently won a top award from the N.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association.

The collaborative project, called Low Impact Development (LID) Multimodal Planning Resources for North Carolina, won the Marvin Collins Outstanding Planning Award. The award recognizes innovative and highly successful efforts to create sustainable communities, and the association cited the project’s success in presenting ideas, using high-quality graphics, emphasizing implementation and incorporating good planning principles.

The project resulted in a 310-page low-impact development guidebook, an online curriculum and three workshops that reached about 120 people with information on how to protect the state’s environment during times of growth.

Christy Perrin, of N.C. State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, says that the concept of low-impact development is gaining attention across the country, and the LID group wanted to make sure that N.C. developers and local government officials had resources that took into account the state’s geography, its regulatory environment and what local governments are already doing to encourage low-impact development.

“We found that it’s helping advance the conversation among local government,” she said of the guidebook. “It’s a tool that can be put in planners’, stormwater managers’ and elected officials’ hands, so it’s not just an abstract concept. The guidebook has a lot of tools and checklists that will help local governments with how to look at low-impact development in a practical manner.”

The project editors from N.C. State were Perrin; Dr. Lee-Anne Milburn, former faculty member in landscape architecture; and Laura Szpir, of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. They worked with partners from the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute, Upper Neuse River Basin Association, Tetra Tech, PLS, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, McKim and Creed, City of Raleigh and Land of Sky Regional Council.

Other NCSU contributors are Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering: Dr. Bill Hunt, Dan Line, Dr. Jon Calabria, Kathy Debusk, Carter Cone, Dr. Jean Spooner and Dwane Jones; Department of Soil Science: Dr. David Lindbo, Nancy Deal; Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics: Dr. Steve Smutko, Patrick Beggs; Cooperative Extension, Onslow County: Diana Rashash; and North Carolina Solar Center: Dona Stankus.

The project was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant through the state’s Division of Water Quality. The project website is at

-Dee Shore