For the city of Aurora, Colorado, property development and food policy go hand-in-hand. The Sustainable Infill and Redevelopment (SIR) Zoning District is located along major streets and was designed to “support new businesses and maximize living choices.”(1) Aurora is targeting strip centers that are experiencing increased vacancy but that have existing infrastructure to make projects more economically feasible—in comparison to greenfield development. The city developed a handbook with methods of achieving the development standards in the zoning regulations for the SIR.
The handbook covers many aspects of redevelopment, such as complete streets, parking, energy efficiency and density, as well as local food production. With a goal of building more self-reliant food economies, the handbook identifies five priorities to be incorporated in redevelopment based on the site characteristics:
- Construct infrastructure for local food production such as community gardens, greenhouses, and rooftop gardens.
- Provide infrastructure for on-site composting.
- Provide farmers’ markets or local food distribution sites.
- Provide retail space for locally produced food. Plant fruit and nut trees.
- Provide for front, side, and backyard gardens.
Grants to Businesses to Supply Fresh Produce
In areas of the city where fresh produce is limited or not available within three-quarters-of-a-mile walking distance, the city is providing grants to businesses to supply fresh food. The grants are made possible through a “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” initiative that was awarded to the Tri-County Health Department by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The city mapped grocery stores and identified those areas that meet the criteria. “Eligible locations must not be within a one-half mile radius of a grocery store that currently provides 500 square feet of floor space dedicated to fresh produce.” Two existing markets and one new market received funding to enable them to offer fresh fruits and vegetables. The markets were selected by a committee that reviews applications to ensure they meet grant requirements. The committee also takes into consideration the applicants that have the potential to have the broadest impact on the community.
Survey Response Pointed to Leading-Edge Initiatives
The city of Aurora responded to the 2012 Food Policy and Program Survey that ICMA is conducting with the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. More survey responses come in each day, and ICMA will continue to highlight local governments whose survey responses indicate initiatives of importance to local governments facing the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Visit the Knowledge Network for more information about food policies and programs.
(1) City of Aurora Sustainable Infill and Redevelopment Design Handbook, p. 1