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22 Chapter 4 Issues Identified and Lessons Learned from NCFRP Project 24 Case Studies and Surveys Introduction · Improved planning and zoning practices, · Cooperative regional planning, The NCFRP Project 24 research team produced six case · Improved notification procedures, studies (Table 4-1) to illustrate examples of dealing with · Innovative funding practices, and actual or potential conflicts between freight and other land uses. · Efforts at better communication between stakeholder groups. These real world examples provide a unique contribution to the understanding of the variety of freight preservation issues that have been encountered around the country and Sources of Conflict Between the complex nature of solutions to these issues. Although each Freight and Other Land Uses case study was borne out of particular geographic and historic Inadequate approaches to land-use planning and zoning contexts, the purpose of this illustration is to demonstrate are obvious candidates for sources of conflict between freight potentially transferable solutions that have been undertaken and other land uses. Perhaps not so obvious, the research effort around the United States. Some case studies focused on a spe- also found that inadequate funding for planning, corridor pres- cific infrastructure asset to be preserved, while others involved ervation, and mitigation, as well as a lack of effective communi- comprehensive plans governing a broad area. The full case cation and cooperation among interested stakeholder groups studies can be found in Appendixes B through F and on the (e.g., freight interests, residential and commercial interests, EnvisionFreight website at http://www.EnvisionFreight.com/ residents, and the public sector), are important contributors issues/ and on CRP-CD-105. to such conflict. Information also was collected by two surveys that were conducted during the course of NCFRP Project 24--a freight industry survey and a public sector survey for planners in local Planning and Zoning for Freight levels of government and MPOs. The surveys are described Is Generally Inadequate in Appendix J. The primary forum where conflicts between freight and From these case studies, surveys, and other research con- other land uses are either avoided or created is the land-use ducted by the project team, a number of underlying causes planning area. As a general rule, nothing is built in America of conflict were identified, as were process improvements for unless and until the use of the land involved has been approved preventing or resolving land-use conflicts. The following in a city or county general plan, the property has been spe- factors were identified as underlying causes of conflict: cifically zoned for that use, a development site plan has been approved, and a building permit issued. These are all local · Planning for freight is generally inadequate; government functions. Almost all issues about future land · Zoning approaches regarding freight are typically inadequate; uses that may affect the present or future viability of ports, rail · Funding for planning, corridor preservation, and conflict lines, airports, highways, and other freight facilities arise--or mitigation is often lacking or insufficient; and come to a head--in the context of zoning or development · Lack of communication exists among stakeholders. site plan approvals. Land-use planning is primarily controlled by local govern The following general process improvements for prevent- ments with input from state and regional entities, such as state ing or resolving land-use conflicts identified were: DOTs, MPOs, councils of governments (COGs), or regional
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23 Table 4-1. NCFRP Project 24 case studies. Case Study Mode Government Level Staten Island, NY, Railroad (Appendix Rail, Port State, Regional, Local B) Baltimore, MD, Maritime Industrial Port State, Local Zoning Overlay District (Appendix C) Portland, OR, Guilds Lake Industrial Waterway, Rail, Trucking Local Sanctuary District (Appendix D) Joliet Arsenal, IL, Redevelopment IntermodalRail, Trucking Federal, State, Regional, (Appendix E) Local Norfolk Southern, Austell, GA, IntermodalRail, Trucking Regional, Local Terminal Relocation (Appendix E) Atlanta, GA, Regional Freight Rail, Trucking, Air Regional, Local Mobility Plan (Appendix F) visioning organizations. Zoning and site plan decisions are made and playgrounds beside rail yards, distribution centers, truck in the context of a city or county's general or comprehensive stops, and airports. Although airports provide the best guid- plan, which contains the desired long-term development ance for noise and vibration mitigation in their manuals, form for the local jurisdiction. Developers, homebuilders, aircraft noise is quite different from noise created by trains, and landowners often make property acquisition, invest- trucks, or port activity. Furthermore, most airport planning ment, and planning decisions based on the local general or manuals do not consider the nuisance created by light. Thus, comprehensive plan. a "one-size-fits-all" approach does not adequately address Accommodation of freight needs in land-use planning is issues encountered by the various freight transportation typically not conducted in a comprehensive fashion in state, modes; issues faced by different modes require different regional, or local venues. Most general or comprehensive plans, approaches. as well as most zoning codes, do not adequately account for General awareness of freight activity is further hindered by freight needs or potential conflicts. For example, Kansas City, the inadequate identification of freight facilities and corridors which is a major freight hub, makes almost no mention of on maps used for planning purposes. The lack of information freight in its "physical framework plan." about the location of freight facilities and corridors con- As a root cause for the lack of integration into land-use plans, tributes to the granting of zoning, permitting, and variance the researchers found that freight was a seldom-mentioned requests that place incompatible land uses (e.g., residential topic within the standard land-use planning curriculum in developments) in close proximity to freight activities, or even most universities. Furthermore, it was not found to be a encroaching on freight corridors. As the Atlanta Regional common topic of seminars or continuing education courses Freight Mobility Plan (ARFMP) case study indicates, mapping for planning professionals. Many local planners view freight of freight facilities is a significant and expensive undertaking. as a state or federal issue. Most state codes contain required Although private entities, such as railroads, have detailed maps or optional elements to be included in local comprehensive of their facilities, they may be hesitant to enter them into the or general plans; however, with few exceptions, freight is not public record, because they may contain confidential and mentioned with respect to land-use issues. competitively sensitive information. Moreover, little design guidance for developing around Another reason for the failure to incorporate freight in freight facilities or corridors is readily available. The best land-use planning is the lack of involvement of freight entities examples of design guidelines that the research team could in local land-use and transportation visioning and plan- find were (1) the guidelines developed by the U.S. Department ning processes. Freight entities may be notified of specific of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the early 1980s project proposals when they own property in proximity to for HUD-assisted developments near or adjacent to hazardous the proposed project, but they generally are not seen as key commercial and industrial facilities and (2) guidelines pro- stakeholders in local land-use planning and zoning decisions. duced by the California Air Resource Board in its Air Quality Another important zoning issue that confronts revenue- and Land Use Handbook, which provides recommendations strapped localities is the amount of tax revenue to be col- for siting new sensitive land uses such as residences, schools, lected from parcels of land and their uses. Zoning to protect
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24 or preserve freight facilities and corridors can lead to a short- time that was donated to this process by both the public and term loss of revenues for a community. Baltimore's Maritime private sector. Industrial Zoning Overlay District (MIZOD) was critiqued on Relocation and preservation activities can run into the this front by researchers at the Abell Foundation, who noted millions of dollars, particularly when projects are stretched that unconditional preservation and protection of under over many years. Although New Jersey and New York both utilized or marginal properties denied a cash-starved city, with had excellent laws regarding the right of first refusal to pur- the highest tax rate in the state, the opportunity to generate chase rail corridors that may be abandoned, finding access greater benefits from otherwise feasible alternative uses. Find- to funding at the moment of abandonment may not always ing the right combination of zoning (both proscriptive and be easy. In the case of the Staten Island Railroad, the State of prescriptive) to promote, protect, and preserve freight facilities New York was fortunate in that an ISTEA earmark allowed and corridors without depriving the local area of legitimate the corridor to be purchased. However, the New Jersey side development opportunities is a delicate balancing act. of this equation exhausted the fund that the state legislature Multimodal freight needs are not well integrated into com- had created to purchase abandoned rail corridors. This fund prehensive and general plans and zoning structures. Because has not hitherto been replenished. This also speaks to the freight needs are not adequately accounted for, inadequate importance of understanding just how imperative it is to comprehensive plans are produced that create the potential preserve corridors. Repurchasing or re-parceling of any long, for recurrent conflict. Similarly, zoning codes generally do not linear, and contiguous corridor is cost prohibitive, and the protect freight facilities from conflicts, and there is no readily use of eminent domain to aggregate parcels can be very contro- available specific model freight zoning code that could be versial in many locations. adopted by local jurisdictions. For example, although typical One way to deal with the lack of funding is through pro- zoning codes might include generic industrial classifications, active planning. It is generally cheaper to avoid conflicts they do not conform to the specific attributes or needs of freight through proactive land-use planning and zoning rather than activity. Furthermore, although industrial zoning designa- to mitigate conflicts that already exist. For example, if a local tions may be applied to freight facilities, they do not extend comprehensive plan and zoning code ensure that housing is to corridors. not located in a way that conflicts with a rail line, the costs of State and regional planning does not do much to fill the gap. sound walls, property purchase, or even relocation of the rail Most state DOTs and MPO long-range plans deal with freight line can be prevented. only in a cursory way, largely because of a lack of resources. A 2003 survey found that only 22 percent of MPOs have a staff Lack of Effective Communication person dedicated to freight, and most MPOs spend less than among Stakeholders 5 percent of their staff time on freight (Association of Metro- politan Planning Organizations 2003). Regional visioning pro- Poor communication is at the core of many conflicts between cesses, such as Envision Utah or Envision Central Texas, rarely freight entities and other stakeholders. Poor communication put much emphasis on freight. Freight entities generally are not also often exists between various levels of government entities. involved as stakeholders in state and regional planning and Among other things, lack of communication leads to con- visioning processes. flicting expectations and lack of buy-in for solutions. In summary, notwithstanding the considerable time, money, The importance of involvement by freight operators in and staffing effort (both public and private sector) involved community outreach or informational sessions that local and in land-use planning and zoning efforts, freight and its state planners hold for multiple long-range and other plan- impact on land use is a topic that is only handled sporadically. ning efforts was underscored in the case studies. For example, Compounding the issues, transportation planning involving in the case of the Whitaker Intermodal Terminal in Austell, freight generally does not deal much with land use. Georgia, Norfolk Southern initially assumed it had public support for the project and did not engage in a concerted public outreach effort. This lack of engagement with the local Funding Often Lacking or Insufficient community was seen as a factor in the failure to gain public for Planning or Preservation support. This case illustrates how quickly a community can Producing information on a region's freight facilities for turn against a project if it feels it has not been engaged or feels planning purposes is an expensive undertaking. For exam- threatened by a project. ple, Atlanta's regional freight planning development cost Often, a regional or state entity may have a more holistic $4 million and took over 4 years to develop a baseline map view of the benefits of freight than will a local jurisdiction, of the city's freight network, chokepoints, bottlenecks, and which is only directly affected by a piece of the freight system. critical facilities. Furthermore, the stated costs do not include One prominent example is the State of Oregon's industrial