Resource: Sustainable Development Codes & Ordinances, including: MN <i>Model Ordinances for Sustainable Development</i>
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Title: Sustainable Development Codes & Ordinances, including: MN Model Ordinances for Sustainable Development
Resource type: Ordinances/rules
Topics: Agriculture, Buildings, Business, Communities, Ecosystems, Energy, Land Use, Transportation, Water
Keywords: smart growth, New Urbanism, TOD, rules, laws, zoning, city planning, model codes
Audience: Government, Citizens, Nonprofit
Region: Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
Summary: Several excellent local and national storehouses of sustainable development codes and ordinances for communities.
Content: Following a directive from the MN Legislature, Minnesota Planning (now part of the Minnesota Department of Administration) published a 313-page guide "From Policy to Reality: Model Ordinances for Sustainable Development" in September 2000 (see This guide offers legal tools to help local government steer changes in their communities that reflect the aspirations of their comprehensive and other plans. Communities can adapt these model ordinances to their own special circumstances. During 2008 and 2009 additional model ordinances were developed as funded by a grant from the State of Minnesota - see to access the following model ordinances:

* Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance

* Agriculture and Forest Protection District

* Model Community Conservation Subdivision District

* Downtown Mixed-Use District

* Energy Efficiency Ordinance

* Highway Commercial District

* Landscaping and Maintenance of Vegetation

* Local Food Networks

* Natural Resources Performance Standards

* Design Standards for Pedestrian-Oriented Districts and Corridors

* Planned Unit Development Ordinance

* Solar Energy Standards

* Stormwater and Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance

* Travel Demand Management Performance Standard

* Transit-Oriented Development

* Village Mixed Use District

* Model Wind Energy

For a model Sustainable Community Development Code written by the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute, see

For model smart growth / conservation design ordinances see:

1) The American Planning Association, at, provides (at cost) a set of 21 model smart growth ordinances with commentary:

* Model Mixed Use Zoning District Ordinance
* Model Live/Work (Live-Work) Ordinance
* Model Town Center Zoning Ordinance
* Model Affordable Housing Density Bonus Ordinance
* Model Unified Development Permit Review Process Ordinance
* Model Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) Ordinance
* Model Residential Cluster Development Ordinance
* Model Pedestrian Overlay District (POD) Ordinance
* Model On-Site Access, Parking, and Circulation Ordinance
* Model Shared Parking Ordinance
* Model Street Connectivity Standards Ordinance
* Model Urban Growth Boundary Ordinance
* Model Transit-Oriented Development Overlay District Ordinance
* Infill Development Incentive Model Approaches
* Model Critical Area Ordinance
* Model Home Occupation Ordinance
* Model Policy Promoting Complete Streets
* Grayfield Redevelopment Model Approaches
* Form-Based Code Overview and Model Approaches
* Lot Size Averaging Model Ordinance
* Innovative Approaches to Encourage Meaningful Citizen Participation in the Development Process

2) A Conservation Design Resource Manual (see ) was written by Chicago Wilderness for local governments in the Chicago area, but applicable to other areas in the Upper Midwest, interested in modifying local comprehensive plans, zoning and subdivision ordinances, and other ordinances to accommodate the principles and practices of conservation design. Sample ordinance language and implementation benefits are presented for 13 conservation design practices. See also "Sustainable Development Principles for Protecting Nature" at

3) Essential Smart Growth Fixes For Urban And Suburban Zoning Codes (U.S. EPA, 2009, 52 pages) at covers these best practices:

1. Allow or require mixed-use zones
2. Use urban dimensions in urban places
3. Rein in and reform the use of planned unit
developments (PUDs)
4. Fix parking requirements
5. Increase density and intensity in town and city centers
6. Modernize street standards
7. Enact standards that foster walkable places
8. Designate and support preferred growth areas and
development sites
9. Manage stormwater with green infrastructure
10. Adopt smart annexation policies
11. Encourage appropriate development densities on the edge

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund ( is actively gathering local sustainability ordinances from around the country, as is the Minneapolis-based New Rules Project (

At the Smart Communities Network's web site (formerly called the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development) at are listings of sustainability ordinances and codes from around the country that were collected a few years ago and appear not to be updated. This is a project of the US Department of Energy. From the Smart Communities Network's home page select a specific topic on the left menu (such as transportation) and then select Codes/Ordinances. Dozens of codes cover issues such as solar access protection (including the code under which Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved out of its former floodplain).

Codes and ordinances are listed in the following topics:

- Green Buildings

- Green Development

- Land Use Planning

- Measuring Progress

- Disaster Planning

- Community Energy

- Transportation

- Sustainable Business

- Rural Issues

- Resource Efficiency (Air, Water, Materials)

Suggested by: Philipp Muessig
Added: 12/20/00
Updated: 08/30/12