Regional Planning

teal-iconEffective Long-term Regional Planning


Objective 1 – Continue regional collaboration of planning and policy-making and coordination of assets and resources
Objective 2 – Establish and maintain a shared data resources system to support decision making


Regional Context
As resources and municipal budgets nationwide have been reduced, there has been a growing trend of
developing regional partnerships to address needs. The alignment of priorities and initiatives has become increasingly important, as regions are competing for infrastructure dollars, jobs, and talent to help bolster local economies.

The Mid-South region could experience significant benefit from this type of regional multi-jurisdictional coordination, building off of the success of the Mid-South Regional Greenprint planning process. There are a number of issues that make coordination especially challenging for the Mid-South:

• The region includes 18 municipalities, 4 counties, and 3 states;
• Two Metropolitan Planning Organizations (Memphis Urban Area MPO and West Memphis MPO);
• Three Planning and Development Districts (Memphis Area Association of Governments, East Arkansas Planning and Development District, and North Delta Planning and Development District); and
• Multiple agencies and organizations charged with similar tasks for a relatively small region, creating fragmentation in planning.

The Mid-South region has numerous existing economic development, parks and open space, transportation, land use, public works, growth management, and sustainability plans, among others, that have been created to guide policies and development in municipalities and counties in the region. Most municipalities and counties in the region have planning staff that focus on a number of these areas, creating a significant opportunity for cross-jurisdictional alignment.

Coordination among cities and counties does take place around transportation issues within the Metropolitan Planning Organizations, but there are opportunities for coordination on other land use, environmental, and economic development planning issues. A review of over 100 plans, studies, and ordinances from across the tristate region relating to the Greenprint can be found in the Additional Resources page.


Proposed Outcomes
The achievement of the objectives associated with Effective Long-Term Regional Planning is expected to result in the following outcomes:

• Alignment of policies between cities, counties, states and federal agencies
• Agreement across jurisdictions for bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, access to regional employment, and access to jobs and services
• Improved capacity for community-based planning and coordinated activities
• Increased recognition of the economic and health benefits of green infrastructure in planning documents and policies
• Increased use of tools and techniques to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of plans and policies, including data gathering and sharing
• Greater support for organizations and agencies that are leading the way, and improved sharing of best practices among jurisdictions
• Better maintenance of existing parks, open spaces, and trails
• Focused investment in existing communities

Regional collaboration for visioning, goal setting, problem solving and action would help to improve economic competitiveness and livability of the Mid-South Region. Collaborative planning across jurisdictions allows regional municipalities and communities to complement each other by coordinating assets, addressing issues that cross political boundaries, such as environmental, economic, and transportation issues, and identifying, preserving, and promoting unique attributes and competitive advantages. This type of regional collaboration would build on the progress and momentum of the Greenprint regional planning initiative.



Objective 1 – Continue regional collaboration of planning and policy-making and coordination of assets and resources

8.1.1 Identify or create and sustain an entity to coordinate future regional collaboration of planning and policy-making and continued efforts of the Mid-South Regional Greenprint Consortium
8.1.2 Utilize the Greenprint Plan and process to advance strategic regional long-term planning
8.1.3 Conduct community-based visioning to align the goals of each municipality and county in the Mid-South to leverage the unique competitive advantages of rural, suburban, and urban communities
8.1.4 Organize and sustain semi-annual meetings of all regional mayors and executives to discuss priority goals and issues
8.1.5 Improve communication and coordination between city, county, and state departments to foster more collaborative land use and transportation planning
8.1.6 Promote improved communication among municipal departments such as solid waste, code enforcement, stormwater, police, parks, and public health
8.1.7 Coordinate local land use, housing, and open space plans with regional transportation planning
8.1.8 Pool grant-writing, public, and private resources in order to sustain and implement elements of the Greenprint Plan

The Greenprint planning process has demonstrated the value of collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries. The process pulled together representatives from public, private, nonprofit, philanthropic, and community sectors of the tri-state region to develop a wide range of objectives and actions intended to connect green space across city, county, and state lines and enhance regional sustainability. Priorities of Mid-South residents are amplified when they are presented as joint priorities of all the municipalities in the region.

In order to facilitate ongoing collaboration on regional planning issues, a new or existing organization should be charged with management of the process. The agency could coordinate periodic meetings with elected and appointed officials of the municipalities in the region to share progress on programs and initiatives, as well as coordinate more detailed planning processes engaging staffs of municipal departments. This ongoing cooperation will lead to a more strategic roadmap for improvements in our communities and the ability to attract funding for regional priorities. The organization should also seek to gain representation on a committee of the two Metropolitan Planning Organizations to advocate for Greenprint implementation.

The partnership developed through the Greenprint consortium should be leveraged to continue cooperation across city, county, and state lines to coordinate land use and housing plans with open space and transportation plans. The growth and development of the region has a profound impact on the built and natural environments, as well as the public infrastructure investments made to date. Forging collaboration among elected officials, as well as staff, to address these issues should be a priority for the region.


Objective 2 – Establish and maintain a shared data resources system to support decision making

8.2.1 Continue to provide a regional open data source and interactive information system that is accessible and useful to all
8.2.2 Develop and adopt uniform data standards across regional jurisdictions and users in order to facilitate a shared data resource system
8.2.3 Identify or create and sustain an entity to hold, create, maintain, and share data for individuals and decision-makers
8.2.4 Conduct outreach and education promoting regional data as a resource to communities, organizations, and government in decision-making
8.2.5 Encourage community-based data users to become data collectors to increase data and information shared across the region
8.2.6 Create and maintain an electronic information platform for sharing planning information, gathering public input, and measuring regional performance on meeting key sustainability indicators
8.2.7 Encourage the participation of data user groups in community-wide open data efforts
8.2.8 Use special events, activities, and education programs to generate interest and awareness and engage individuals and groups in open data efforts

One of the first tasks of the Greenprint planning process was to collect data across the tri-state area in order to create a shared system of data. The first output of this data collection was the Greenprint web mapping tool, a simplified mapping system accessible to all, illustrated below.

Tmapping toolhe web mapping tool was intended to facilitate analysis and decision making by the Greenprint consortium working groups based on available data, but has longterm application for public use and benefit. Once the web mapping tool was fully operable, the Greenprint process took the next step in promoting open data in the region by making all spatial data available for public download through the data geoportal.

These efforts represent one of the first initiatives toward open data in the region. In order to continue progress toward open data, a central entity should be created or identified to hold, develop, maintain, and share data.Municipal and county governments in the region are encouraged to make non-sensitive data available to the public and to work with the central entity in order to ensure uniform data standards across jurisdictions and users in order to successfully facilitate a shared data system. A project like the Livability Dashboard, discussed in Objective 2.2, is an example of how Memphis and Shelby County are moving toward open data and increased digital engagement in planning.

Fostering an environment of open and shared data will improve equity and decision-making on public policies, procedures, and investments by improving information government and the public can access. Open and shared data can lead to development of more data and higher quality data. As the public becomes more empowered to use data, their ability to generate data for public and private use grows.


planning meeting